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Lebron Hurt His Development

Lebron should not have left Cleveland for Miami. Yes, that is what every NBA fan (including me) has been saying for about 12 months. And never in my history of watching basketball have I seen a player be more scrutinized than Lebron was this past year. Does he does deserve it? Absolutely. He left with no class and went to build a super team down in South Beach (Like they needed more things to look forward to over there. They have great weather, beautiful women, and a great night life. They deserve an elite basketball team too?) What people have not discussed is the fact that Lebron’s move to Miami may have been bad for his development. He obviously gave himself a better chance at rings and he clearly hurt his legacy the second he decided to talk to Jim Gray in front of a live audience back home.

Lebron talking to Gray

But, Lebron potentially stunned his growth by making the move to South Beach. In Cleveland, he was the go to guy night in and night out; there was no question who was getting the ball and he would not get criticized for wanting to take the last shot. I still remember his battles with Gilbert Arenas every year in the first round, where he would get into the lane and make a big play to win the game. What happened to the Lebron James that dropped 29 out of 30 to close off one of the best teams in the league (Detroit).

Lebron dunking on Pistons

For some reason, he no longer embraces the moment and looks afraid to capture it. When you look at superstars like Jordan, Kobe, and this year Dirk; they have a look in their eyes that shows they’re ready to take over the game. Kobe can take the most absurd shots but, he looks confident taking them and in often times that shot is going in. Dirk showed it in this postseason that he has no trouble taking care of business. In the case of the Heat, Wade is the person that thrives under pressure. He takes over late in games and he has that look that says you’re not going to beat me. Lebron lacks that killer instinct. In a league where you need to be an assassin to close out games, Lebron looks more like the person who’s getting assassinated. (At least, he did against Jason Terry)

Certain people can make the argument that the media is being a little too harsh on Lebron but, they’re not. Lebron embraces the moment when he wins so he has to take the Heat when he loses. The move to Miami ironically gave him the ability to shy away from the heat because they already had their closer in Wade; it made it easier for Lebron to become LeRobin. Scottie Pippen never learned how to close because he did not have to; he had Jordan. In 1994, when Phil needed a big shot he went to Kukoc not Scotty because that wasn’t the moment Pippen was meant for.


Kukoc takes shot over Pippen

Kobe did not truly learn how to close (the way he can now) until Shaq left because with Shaq he did not have to grasp the moment. (Although, Kobe was much more assertive than compared to Lebron now) In most other place Lebron would have been forced to close and over time that defines you. Elite players have to WIN big games, that means late in the game and that means Final’s games. If Lebron would have gone to the Knicks, Nets, Clippers, or stayed in Cleveland he would have been hung if he did not take the last shot. In Miami, he’ll get a pass because people know that Wade is better at finishing.

There is the possibility that maybe Lebron is not meant for that moment and in some way the media is imposing it on him. He has tended to take more and more jumps shots as his career has progressed because he thinks that’s what you’re supposed to do. (Attention Lebron James, shooting is not even in one of your top 3 best attributes…your better at driving, your better at defense, and your better in the fast break. That is arguably the best part of your game. You’re an athlete that is faster, stronger, and jumps higher than anybody on the court. Why eliminate that strength by dribbling in place for 10 seconds than shooting a contested jump shot. You are not even that great at hitting open ones) Do you know why Kobe, Durant, and Dirk do that? Because they lull you to sleep and than jay it in your face. When I watch Kobe on TV, I usually know when he is going to pull up and so does the defender but, if that guy jumps too early it’s an “and 1”. Lebron removes his best tools at the end of games. And now he does not have a strong urge to work on them. (He better in the summer because if he comes back doing that same crap next year, he will find himself much lower on people’s top 5’s, maybe even top 10’s.) Lebron James has honestly been the best regular season player in the NBA for 3 years, just look at the hardware.

Lebron wins first MVP

But, come playoff time the team with the best record faltered twice in Cleveland and now this year in Miami (third best record in the league). I praised him in the first three rounds of this playoff because he deserved it but, I should have figured his jump shot did not become instantly good over night.

Lebron truthfully has to figure out how to use all those strengths late in games. It is possible that even with a lead the Heat should not slow down the offense because they are terrible in the half court. Their offense is stagnant and goes nowhere because no one is in motion. Some of the blame should go on Spolestra because it seems like his offense compared to Doc Rivers is elementary. (Phil was right when he said they play an X Box offense) But, at the end of the day, Lebron has to take upon himself to figure out how to best use his strengths late in games. Whether its develop a post game, figure how to drive the way he does for the first 40 minutes, or get his teammates wide open. The NBA has way too many talented players for them to sit around and wait for you to develop; even if you are the best athlete that has ever lived. Lebron needs to figure it out now or forever be remembered as what “could have been”.


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