All of a sudden the 2012 NBA All-Star Game turned into a contest late in the fourth quarter on Sunday night at the Amway Center in Orlando, as the East squad came charging back from a 20 point deficit earlier in the period and had a chance to win the game in the last seconds. Miami Heat forward LeBron James was a big part of the Eastern Conference rally as he buried three treys to help close the gap.
It all came down to one play with one second left in the contest and the ball in James’ hands and he had a choice to shoot the trey that could clinch the victory, or pass the ball to one of his teammates. Lakers veteran guard Kobe Bryant was screaming at the former MVP, challenging him to take the shot. Instead, James decided to attempt a pass which ended up in the hands of Clippers forward Blake Griffin and the game was lost. Once again, LeBron James had “Died down in the moment” as he did against the Dallas Mavericks in last year’s NBA Finals.
If the roles had been reversed in that situation, there is no doubt that the “Black Mamba” would have taken that shot and even if he did not make it he would have known that was what he was supposed to do. If we travel back to an earlier era, given the same circumstances; Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would have all taken the shot as well. Perhaps that is the reason that all four of these players have multiple Championship rings, while the forward from Miami has yet to win one.
Early in his career the number one choice of the 2003 NBA Draft told a reporter that he did not have the “killer instinct” that made Bryant so dangerous down the stretch in a game. At the time, I just took the statement as false humility; however over the last few years James has proven that statement to be true.
While playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2009, James could not lead his team to victory in a series that they were heavily favored in against the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Magic went to the Finals and James was so embarrassed by his performance in the series he refused to shake Dwight Howard’s hand after Orlando won the last contest.
The Cavaliers star would find himself in a similar situation the following season as they took on an aging Boston Celtics squad that got hot during the Playoffs. James played so badly in the last couple of games of the matchup that some accused him of giving up. It would be his last series in a Cleveland uniform.
Last year with the team in South Beach with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh alongside him to help carry the load, James was again the weak link in the chain and one of the main reasons that the Heat who were the odds on favorites to win the series going in; allowed the Dallas Mavericks to win their first Title in the Association.
James has talked about being a leader and the man his teammates count on since I first interviewed him during his rookie year. However it was the lack of faith in his abilities to back up his boasts that sent him to Miami to become the sidekick to D-Wade. It was also the reason he passed up that shot with one second left in Sunday night’s contest.