Tag:LeBron James
Posted on: March 8, 2012 1:52 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 11:00 am

Heat make pitch for Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is being lobbied by NBA players. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

Dwyane Wade lobbied to bring in LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami in 2010. Now, Wade and James are trying to bring in another superstar to Miami: Peyton Manning. From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“I’m just sayin’,” LeBron said. “Dolphins need a quarterback, and Peyton’s available.”Later, I asked LeBron if he was trying to recruit Manning to Miami.

“Oh, you guys heard me?” he said with a smile. “I gave my pitch, my one and only pitch. We’ll see what happens.”

Are the two superstars friends?

“No, not a friend of mine,” LeBron said. “But I’m a Miami Heat player, and I want Miami sports to be great: The U, the Dolphins, the Marlins, the Heat, of course.

“Peyton Manning is a great player,” LeBron continued. “No matter what happened this past year, his resume speaks for itself and it would be great to have him down here.”
via LeBron makes his one and only pitch for Manning to be a Dolphin - South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

 And from the Palm Beach Post:
“I’m already working on that,” Haslem said. “I’m thinking Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne. If we can work that out, we’ve got big Brandon Marshall, then we’re on our way. We got a solid defense. So, if you all hear me, Peyton and Reggie, you know what I mean, wink, wink, make it happen.”
via Ready to share spotlight: Heat stars pushing for Peyton | Heat Zone blog: Miami Heat & NBA news | The Palm Beach Post.

And from the Twitter account of Dwyane Wade himself:  
I'm just gonna put it out thr..peyton that number 18 wld look gr8 in a dolphins uniform..steve ross let's go.. marlins & heat style..All in
via Twitter / @DwyaneWade: I'm just gonna put it out ....

It says something about the immense power of the NFL that a quarterback returning from multiple neck surgeries is being publicly courted by NBA players. There's obviously no concern of tampering since the players are unconnected to any NFL team. But if Manning were to head to Miami to play for the Dolphins, that would be a lot of star power in what is not considered a large market. 

Manning is clearly the biggest story in sports right now after parting ways with the Colts as they get set to move forwards with Andrew Luck. You could say Luck is the Colts' Kyrie Irving. Except the Colts wanted to move on and the Cavs were left devastated. Also, when Manning left the Colts on national television, the Colts agreed with it and saw it coming.

Should Manning elect to join the Dolphins, there's going to be even more dislike for South Beach as a sports city. In that regard, maybe it's a match made in heaven, the Triad and Manning.
Posted on: March 5, 2012 1:39 pm

Baseline Awards: Lakers on the hunt

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are playing their best ball of the season (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

The Baseline Awards celebrate the week that was and give you a track of where the awards are at throughout the NBA season. Some are serious, some are not, but all took way longer than necessary to compile. 

Eastern Conference Player of the Week: Rajon Rondo

Three guys have had a triple-double like the one Rajon Rondo had Sunday against the Knicks. Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and Rondo. That's the list. Rondo's 18-point, 17-rebound, 20-assist 3D is the stuff of legend. It's enough for him to win outright this week. We're a league absolutely obsessed with the pull-up mid-range jumpshot. We make a big deal about dunks, and we talk a big game about team defense, but really, what we care about is rising up and hitting a mid-range jumper with a hand in the face. That's what Jordan did, and many of us are colored one way or another by the Jordan era. What Rondo does is so phenomenally different in its style than anyone else's approach, it almost makes Sunday's game more impressive.

The Celtics need so much every night and Rondo continues to provide it. He wasn't even offensively efficient on Sunday. But he creates so much action on a per-minute basis that you're left wondering if he's the entire Celtics team, in reality. These trade rumors are nonsense, barring an unbelievable offer. Rondo's one of the best in the game.

Western Conference Player of the Week: Kobe Bryant

There's a perception that those that look at advanced metrics and efficiency "have it out" for Kobe Bryant. Or "are haterzzzz" or whatever. But as a guy who's a big fan of analytics and efficiency, I'm telling you right now, Kobe Bryant is playing his best ball of the season. Yes, better than the 40-point stretch. He's working in the flow of the offense, finding good shots, hitting them at a great clip, getting to the line, everything. He's been simply brilliant. He's creating for his teammates, he's playing better than usual defense (and his defense is usually above-average). These are the stretches for Bryant where you understand the constant calls for him as the best player in the world. That those are usually based on inconsistent and flawed data regarding "ringz" and "clutch" are irrelevant. The Black Mamba is striking everything right now.

The Puzzling Enigma Award: Strangest week from player or team

Phoenix Suns

How have they won three in a row? How? How is this possible? Schedule advantages aside, they knocked off a near-playoff team in Minnesota, a playoff team in the Clippers, and a feisty Kings team. All at home, sure. But that's three games in a row and they're within spitting distance of .500 and throwing distance of the 8th seed. Steve Nash is still doing this at his age. It's incredible. I have zero understanding of how they are even out of the basement.

The Horde Award: Team you should fear

Los Angeles Lakers

There are a lot of teams on impressive runs right now. But the Lakers are playing their best ball of the season. They're just tearing through teams right now. Sunday's win over the Heat was a statement game. The fact remains that if this team gets home court advantage they're going to be a killer out in the playoffs. With their size and wing defenders starting to play well, their only real deficit is at point guard and they're getting by. They're not the invincible Lakers of years past, but they're exceptionally good.

Cub Scout Troop Award: Team you should not fear

Portland Trail Blazers

It's a train wreck. The players are divided in the locker room by all accounts, there's rampant talk of Nate McMillan getting fired, and they're losing games along with the soul of their team. There isn't a more mentally weak opponent right now

Searching For Bobby Fischer Award for Stratagem:

Tom Thibodeau's late-game adjustments to San Antonio. Thibodeau recognized the damage perimeter penetration was creating and packed the lane against the Spurs, daring them to beat them on rushed shots from the outside against a super-long lineup. It worked, Tony Parker was stymied, and the Bulls got a big win over the Spurs.

Awkward Water Cooler Conversation Award for Coaching Struggle:

Doug Collins late-game scoring options

The Sixers need to seize on the wonderful season Andre Iguodala is having and put the ball in his hands late in games. He doesn't have to shoot it all the time, but Lou Williams is trying to go NBA Jam every time and opponents know it. They need to be able to close and even if Iguodala isn't a superstar he can play one for thirty seconds. Against the Bulls and Thunder the Sixers blew opportunities to get their daggers in by squandering possessions. Rare criticism for the presumptive Coach of the Year.

Blog of the Week: SilverScreenAndRoll.com

The Lakers have a pretty nutso fanbase, I'm going to be honest. All fans are nuts. Lakers fans think they can trade Luke Walton for Chris Paul and Matt Barnes for Andre Iguodala. To be fair, they've been on the receiving end of some of the most lopsided trades in history. But they take it far. Which is why it's great SilverScreenAndRoll.com exists. It's a site that clearly shows the Laker side of history but gives hones and open criticism, has a sense of humor about itself, and doens't stray into too much cheerleading or moping. It gives great insight into multiple ways to approach the game and should be essential reading for you.

MVP rankings:

1. LeBron James: Yup, even still. Sorry, I'm not going to throw out being the most dominant force on the planet for 45 minutes because he passes to an open man in the 48th. His legacy is compromised, his MVP resume is not.
2. Kevin Durant: Started chucking a bit against Atlanta, and falls back to the pack a bit. If James falls out because of the clutch nonsense or because they rest him, it's going to be a fight down the stretch between Durant and the two behind him.
3. Derrick Rose: Oh, hey Derrick. Good to see you back. What's that, you want to destroy all of us in a fire of impossible floaters? OK.
4. Kobe Bryant: If he does what he does and doesn't need as many bad shots to do it, this is the best pound-for-pound offensive player on the planet Earth.
5. Chris Paul: Hard to get the kind of assist numbers he should have when none of is guys can hit a shot right now.
6. Tony Parker: I'm one of the few who believes there's a big gap between Parker and the top five based on his perimeter defense. Parker ballhawks but too often is caught out of position. Which would be a problem if he hadn't been insanely brilliant this year.
7. Andre Iguodala: If I'm willing to say he's the DPOY (and I am), he should get a shot here.

(Honestly, this completes the list at this point.)

ROY Rankings:

1. Kyrie Irving: That Anderson Varejao injury may have cost us the chance to see Irving put the Fear of God in someone in the first round of the playoffs, Rose '09 style.
2. Ricky Rubio: If Rubio bounced a pass off his nose like a seal for an assist, would you be surprised? Me either.
3. Isaiah Thomas: Mr. Irrelvant is doing some special things in Sacramento, if you can bear to watch.
4. Kemba Walker: I was impressed with Walker's control during the Nets game, improving more than I thought he would.
5. MarShon Brooks: The re-emergence of Brook Lopez is giving him some issues in terms of flow. Just 20 points total in his last three games.

DPOY Rankings
1. Andre Iguodala: Night and night out the most versatile defender in the NBA.
2. Luol Deng: When Deng sticks you it's like getting snuggied by an anaconda.
3. Dwight Howard: He's so good his effort level is way down this season and he's still third.
4. LeBron James: Same deal as Howard.
5. Tony Allen: Dwane Casey called him "a pitbull." Here was his response.

Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:49 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 7:23 pm

Mamba strikes for revenge as Lakers top Heat

Kobe Bryant took it to Dwyane Wade and the Heat Sunday. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

Maybe all he needed was a reason to make it personal. Kobe Bryant has struggled against LeBron James over the past four years as James has risen to become one of, if not the best players in the NBA. Bryant's Lakers lost games to James' Cavaliers and both matches with the Heat last year, and one earlier this season. But after a hard foul from Dwyane Wade in the All-Star game gave him a concussion and broken nose which required him to wear a mask Sunday against the Heat, things changed. Despite Bryant saying that he didn't take offense to the foul, he certainly looked like a man possessed. 

Bryant scored 33 points on 23 shots, a model of efficieny as the Lakers downed the Heat 93-83 to improve to 3-0 since the All-Star Break. He hurt the Heat from every angle with every type of shot. He worked in the flow of the offense, something he's struggled with this season and which has hurt the Lakers' offense repeatedly. Bryant would never admit that Wade's foul on him during the All-Star game had an effect, but it was clear that Bryant was zoned in to win this game. 

It may not have been a revenge game, but it sure looked like it.

In the bigger picture, the Lakers bullied the Heat defensively Sunday, and that was the real difference maker. They shut off their transition opportunities and in the halfcourt bodied, shook, jarred and shoved them around. It was a physical contest and yet the Lakers were the more aggressive team overall. That tough defense only drew 15 free throws on 17 personal fouls versus the Lakers' 29 free throws on 23 personal fouls.

Most impressive may have been Metta World Peace, who has struggled the past two seasons, but had 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals, hitting 2-4 from the thraee-point line and a series of dagger turnarounds. Basically, if the world ended Sunday night you couldn't be all that surprised. MWP was everywhere defensively, badgering James and making steals and saves to dirsupt the Heat offense.

The size advantage for Miami was huge, especially with Chris Bosh missing another game due to personal reasons. The Heat had no way to stop or deter Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and the twin towers pounded them on the offensive glass. Let me put it this way. In the fourth quarter, LeBron James was trying to wrap-around passes to Juwan Howard for finishes in traffic. You can imagine how that worked out.

The Lakers are playing the best ball of their season right now, the Heat on the third game of a West Coast road trip without Bosh. But it was a statement game for L.A. all the same, and one they needed.

The worst of the night has to go to Dwyane Wade, who shot 7-17 for 16 points and fouled out with five fouls, including one late useless bump on Kobe Bryant. Wade was frustrated with the physical play by L.A. all afternoon (Wade only shot two free throws), and seemed bothered by the intensity of the game and Bryant in particular. 

Turns out it's never wise to make a snake angry.
Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:32 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 6:46 pm

LeBron James steps on lady's sandal video

LeBron James crushes a woman's sandaled foot. (ESPN Broadcast)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

Falling short late in games is surely frustrating, but that's no reason to pick on a defenseless woman.

On Sunday, Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James suffered a second straight defeat, as the Los Angeles Lakers emerged from a nationally-televised showdown with a 93-83 win at Staples Center. This after James had been ridiculed for passing on the game-deciding possession during a Friday night loss to the Jazz in Utah.

On Sunday, James' late-game folly was less about choking and passing and more about crushing and stomping. Indeed, James just demolished a gray-haired woman's sandaled foot during the game's closing minutes, rolling his left ankle in the process.

With a little bit more than a minute left to play in the game, James attempted to intercept an inbounds pass and went crashing into the courtside crowd. There, his foot landed squarely on the sandal of an elderly woman, who seemed none too pleased about it. James rolled around on the court briefly in pain but was able to continue playing. The woman, however, looked shocked, mortified and terrified, all in one.

James is listed at 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds so that's a lot of force coming down on the toes and toenails. He finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in 43 minutes on 12-for-26 shooting. 

Here's the video of Miami Heat forward LeBron James stepping on a woman's sandaled foot during the fourth quarter of a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

Posted on: March 4, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 3:09 pm

Is that LeBron James carrying a... purse?

Posted by Royce Young

Kevin Durant has the backpack. LeBron James has... the purse?

Decide for yourself: Did LeBron walk into Staples Center ready to take on the Lakers carrying a purse? Or is it not a purse, but simply European? Or a man-purse? Here's how you know you're a bad man: When you can totally pull it off. And LeBron is pulling it off. Kind of makes me want one.

The question is, what's in the tiny little bag? Is it a bag carrying a toothbrush and shaving tools? Shampoo and conditioner? Or maybe that's where he keeps his clutchness? Who knows.

Via Deadspin
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:43 am
Edited on: March 3, 2012 9:13 am

Can we get smarter at building teams?

Research suggests the Magic may not have built around Dwight Howard the right way. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

So there's this big sports analytics conference called the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. If you're an NBA hoophead/blognut/basketball freakazoid you likely have already heard about it, since most of the writers who like to stretch beyond the tired cliches tend to spend a lot of effort talking and writing about this thing. 

The event's held at MIT with a bunch of "wicked smaht" people talking about a number of things that would likely bore you to tears if you're not a fan of sports geekery. It's not athletes talking about swagger (though NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver dropped a reference to that Friday which was hilarious), or about clutch (though there was a panel on how pressure impacts players). It's people that work in front offices and behind the scenes (for the most part) talking about regression analysis, paradigms of alternative thought, and correlation (not so much causation). 

It's easy for a lot of people to toss this stuff to the wind. It doesn't fit with how we usually view sports, and how we usually view sports is fun. It makes it complicated, it hones in on stuff that's too specific (a common complaint from players and coaches who love the forest, hate the trees), and it sounds like stuff that's too dense to take anything actionable from.

That's the trick. It's like what blogging really is about (besides funny videos, photoshops, and poor syntax). You have to search through the mess, take out the interesting components, and try and put them into a bigger perspective. What follows is an attempt to guide you through two compelling research papers presented at the conference, and why you should care about their results. 

Big 2’s and Big 3’s: Analyzing How a Team’s Best Players Complement Each Other

One major takeaway from the Big 3 results is that the data shows that, cluster 8, the multi- faceted small- forwards who are very good 3 - point shooters, are great players to build a team around, as long as there aren’t any similar players among the most talented players on the team. Very good results occur when these small- forwards are surrounded with a variety of player - types; the Big 3’s with the highest coefficients (7 - 8 - 12, and 8 - 10 - 12) both include players from cluster 8. This was true with the Big 2’s as well.  

Robert Ayer presented this study which had its methodological quirks. (I would have liked to have seen a better efficiency model than the one provided and even accounting for minutes, we should never be using per game numbers for anything more than a highlight clip for toddlers at this point.) But overall the thought process was really ineresting. Essentially, he classified players, factored their efficiency, and then ran analysis to discover what worked and what didn't work together. It's like using all of the data from NBA history to create models of the players we describe in broad terms and then using advanced metrics to figure out which of those archetypes should be used together to build a team. 

The Rub: Putting a pure point with a dominant center may not be as effective as pairing a versatile wing with a little shooting ability with the same dominant center.

The explanation: This calls into question the idea of the point-guard-big-man fit. For example, Dwight Howard, it has long been thought, needs to play with a great pure point guard. But his greatest success has been with a versatile three who could run the pick and roll and had some three-point shooting ability, in Hedo Turkoglu during the Magic's 2009 run. The analysis suggests that Howard would do better with, say, Andre Iguodala, who can defend, distribute, rebound, and score when called on, versus say Deron Williams. This doesn't mean that the two aren't a good fit. It just says it's possible that if you consider Deron Williams and Andre Iguodala equal talents in terms of their relative skillsets, that Iguodala and Howard might find more success from a production standpoint. 

It also speaks to how Otis Smith's move for Vince Carter in 2009 may have been the right move. If you improve upon Hedo Turkoglu's three-point shooting with Carter while keeping the same versatility, it's a win. The flaw may have been over-estimating Carter's diminished ability as a passer due to age. 

The fact that so much success was gleaned from wings in the study, be they versatile passers or high-volume scorers, suggests a radical shift in traditional thought about the strength of players. Wings are most often criticized regarding their tweener status while classic big men and point guards are idolized, outside of the exceptions like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Turns out your small forward can have a huge impact on your winning percentage simply due to his position. 

In another real world application, high-scoring small forwards fit well with high-scoring 2-guard, but high-scoring power forwards and those same small forwards did not make the list of good matches. So there's that, Knicks fans.

The Rub: Having two players that do the same thing on your team isn't just bad, it's really bad. 

The Explanation:  Sacramento brought in John Salmons, Isiaiah Thomas and Jimme Fredette to a back court that already featured  Tyreke Evans and (presumably, in restricted free agency) Marcus Thornton. The idea was shots on shots on shots on shots. But instead, you have several players essentially with redundant skill sets, and the paper points out this stuff kills teams' production. 

A practical application of this is an assault on the best player available concept towards the draft. It's fine to draft a player like the one you have now, as long as you move one or the other, or do not play them together. The negative impact the study reveals in redundant players suggests that there's no point in stockpiling at a position if the two players are essentially the same.

A counter to this though lies in a confounding wins vs. production element from the paper:

Most observers would think that a Big 2 from the same group would not fit as well; this is partially contradicted by this analysis. While multi- faceted small forwards who shoot 3’s don’t fit well together (8 - 8, - 4.046), teams with two high scoring 2 - guards (2 - 2, 3.97) have historically over - performed their expected win total, given the team’s overall talent level and coachi ng skill. Digging a bit further into the data, nearly all of the teams with multiple high - scoring 2 guards played at a higher than median pace; although further analysis would be required to state conclusively, this is perhaps instructive on  the style of play that teams with two high - scoring 2 - guards should employ.
So pretty much if you want to stick two gunners on the floor together, that's allright. Some real world examples of this might include the 2011 Hawks which employed lineups featuring Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford, and to a certain degree the Nuggets with J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony. The best example featuring a fast team might be the Seven Seconds or Less Suns with Leandro Barbosa and Johnson.

Takeaways: When you're building a team, you need to avoid big men stepping over each other. But you can duplicate shots, if you run in a fast-pace offense. However, you should look before you leap because it turns out small-forwards are pretty important by all accounts.

NBA Chemistry: Positive and Negative Synergies in Basketball

Why is Chris Paul for Deron Williams a mutually beneficial trade? Overall, our SPM ratings rate Chris Paul and Deron Williams nearly the same, but with differences in skills. Paul is a better ballhandler, Williams a slightly better rebounder, and Williams is better at offense and defense.

The SPM framework predicts that Chris Paul is a better fit for Utah because he creates a lot of steals (3.1 steals per 48 minutes (“SP48M”)), while no one else in the New Orleans lineup does (West 1.0 SP48M, Stojakovic 1.1, Chandler 0.7, Butler 0.9). Utah, on the other hand, has many players who create steals (Kirilenko 2.0, Boozer 1.5,  Millsap 1.7, Okur 0.9, Williams 1.4). Because defensive steals has positive synergies in our system, Chris Paul's  ballhawking skills fit better in Utah, where he can team up with others and wreak havoc to opponents' ballhandlers.

Conversely, why would New Orleans trade for Deron Williams? Our framework predicts that Williams is a better offensive fit with New Orleans. There are negative synergies between two good offensive players since they must  share only one ball, and the New Orleans starters take fewer shots than Utah’s. At New Orleans, Deron Williams  would not need to share the ball with so many players.  

Allan Maymin, Philip Maymin, and Eugene Shen presented a doozy of a numbers-fest which took a non-traditional spin on advanced plus-minus. In short, how well does a team do in a specific area like rebounding or turnovers versus their opponent when a player is on the floor versus off. There were some methodology issues in this one as well, but the concept was intriguing. 

The Rub: The get-at here is that player skills are irrelevant if they don't mesh with the team. Their kicker was the Paul-Williams trade concept, which says that both teams would benefit if they made a trade for each other's guard because of who the rest of their teams were. 

The explanation: This goes back to building around a star. In short, you can build good players around a great one but it doesn't matter if those other players' skills aren't complimented by the strengths of your star. We focus a lot on bringing in talent around a player. But bringing in offensive weaponry when your star's biggest impact on other players is defensively is missing the point. It's not about trading the best player, it's about finding the best players to surround them with. 

This seems obvious, but look at how many teams create logjams with their decision-making. For years the Warriors have been a defensive nightmare despite having two guards who both need the ball in the backcourt. The paper also touches on ball-handlers being redundant with one another because there's only one ball to share. The success of dual-point-guard lineups seem to contradict this measure, but in those situations, the players do thrive because one player takes on a scoring role. Understanding role play is crucial to this and it would be great to get coaches' thoughts on these ideas. 
Posted on: March 3, 2012 1:01 am

LeBron tweets, 'I fell short again'

Posted by Royce Young

LeBron James knows it. He knows what you're saying after Miami's loss against the Jazz. He choked. He's not clutch. He's shrunk again.

With the game on the line and the Heat down a point, LeBron passed to an open Udonis Haslem for the game-winner. Haslem missed, and now we're all talking about LeBron. After the game, LeBron tweeted this:

I fell short again. I don't know if LeBron just happened to phrase it that way, but that's real talk. That's digger deeper. That's laying it out there in a way that opens you up to his world.

He knows he failed late against the Mavericks. He knows he has a history of those moments. He doesn't deny it. He desperately wants to win and he did everything but make that shot for Haslem to get his team there. Eighteen points in the fourth, 35-10-6 for the game and brilliant defense and shotmaking down the stretch. But it's that one moment where he failed.

Except he didn't even fail. Haslem did. LeBron set him up beautifully, his teammate just missed the shot. But LeBron takes responsibility because as he tweeted, he could've done more. He could've made a difference. You can say a lot about yourself in 140 characters or less, and LeBron really did.
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 3, 2012 12:51 am

LeBron has inspiring fourth, but passes late

Posted by Royce Young

You want the LeBron James story summarized in a tidy 12-minute quarter? Take Friday's fourth quarter against the Jazz.

With Utah hammering the Heat, LeBron completely took over the game, scoring 18 points on 8-9 shooting bringing Miami within a chance of winning their 10th straight game. He was brilliant. He was spectacular. He was the best player on the floor, the best player on the planet, something straight out of a comic book. He did things only he can do and just had us all shaking our heads at his ability.

But that's not we're all talking about. We're talking about his pass to Udonis Haslem.

Was it the right basketball play? Sure it was. Open man, high percentage shooter from that spot. It's what you ask for there. But still, it feeds the beast. The beast that says LeBron isn't clutch, that LeBron doesn't want the ball late, that LeBron shrinks in the fourth quarter.

Nevermind that Kobe Bryant pulled a similar move with Derek Fisher for a game-winner against the Dallas earlier in the season. Difference is, Fisher made it. Haslem didn't. And now it's LeBron's fault.

But it is though, isn't it? There's this crazy dichotomy between making the right play and just hogging the ball and taking an off balance shot on your own. Thing is, LeBron had just done that hitting this wild shot to put Miami up three with 26 seconds left. Would you rather have had another one of those, or the open look for Haslem?

LeBron told reporters after the game, "It’s just the way I’ve always played ... When the teammate doesn’t make the shot it doesn’t matter much from a media perspective."

Could the right basketball play actually be wrong? It's all about the crunch-time debate. The statheads all say to run your offense and get a high percentage shot in those moments. The guys like Kobe, Durant and CP3 says forget that and want the weight on their shoulders. Maybe they pass in some circumstances, but it certainly isn't a habit. Can you picture Kevin Durant passing to Serge Ibaka for an 18-footer with the game on the line? I can't. Durant wants that shot.

There's a unique difference there, something we can't put our finger on. I don't think LeBron's shy or scared or afraid. I think LeBron just wants to make the right play. But sometimes, maybe it's the wrong one. It's a trend with LeBron. He's might be too perfect a player. The reason everyone made such a big stink about him passing the ball at the end of the All-Star Game was because it was part of a bigger theme. It fit the story. And then five days later, he does it again. We all want to say it's not a big deal, especially if Haslem makes the shot, but it doesn't feel that way, does it? It feels like it means something, right?

At a point, you have to be willing to live with the consequences of taking that shot. You have to be fine with answering questions of how you missed. You have to apply that same mentality that had you dominating 11 minutes and 25 seconds of a quarter and just say, "Screw it, this is my game." You have to be willing to face the music after a game and just say, "So what, I missed." That's a whole lot easier than answering questions about why you passed to Udonis Haslem.
Category: NBA
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com