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#pounditMonday, April 22, 2024

All-Star Game or not, LeBron James should have taken last shot against Kobe

LeBron James spent 31 minutes during Sunday’s All-Star Game reminding us why he’s one of the best basketball players to ever play the game. Then in the final minute of the exhibition, he reminded us that there still is something missing from his game.

LeBron treated fans to left-handed windmill dunks and three pointers from all parts of the floor while tying Kevin Durant for a game-high 36 points. That was all done when everyone was loose and having fun. When the game got close in the final minutes, and everyone became competitive, LeBron grew shy and passed his way out of the final shot.

Even though the game was just an exhibition, the play was indicative of LeBron’s passive mindset, and that is a concern that needs to be highlighted.

For the last few years, the best NBA debate has centered around two names: Kobe and LeBron. We haven’t been treated to a Finals between them, but on Sunday we had the matchup we’ve all wanted — Kobe guarding LeBron, with the All-Star Game in question.

The East was down by two and LeBron got the ball after a missed three pointer by Deron Williams. He could have driven on Kobe (and faced a double team), and tried to tie the game with a layup or pullup jumper, or, he could have faked like he was going strong, and bombed a three for the win.

Whether you wanted him to make the shot depends on if you’re a LeBron fan, but there is no debate that everyone wanted to see him take the shot. LeBron was hot — he was 6-8 on threes — and he’s supposed to be the best player in the league. He’s the one everyone wants to see handle the ball on the final shot, not Melo, or Williams, or anyone else on the floor. Yet with the game on the line, LeBron went passive as he did frequently during the Finals last year, and he passed the ball.

Kobe chided LeBron afterward, asking him why he didn’t shoot the ball. We’re all wondering the same thing. How many cleanup hitters do you see putting down a sac bunt in the 9th inning with his team down one and a runner on first? You want to see your big boppers take their best hacks.

LeBron needs to understand it’s alright if he strikes out — even the greatest players do. But at least take a swing. Nobody wants to see him go to the plate and leave the bat on his shoulder.


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