The 2012 NBA All-Star Game would end with Miami Heat forward LeBron James wearing the goat horns, as he declined to take a critical shot, that could have won the contest for the squad from the East. 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 the 2011 NBA Finals.
Once again the All-Star forward’s own words came back to haunt him, as the media and the fans criticized him for lacking the “Killer Instinct,” that he had admitted Lakers star Kobe Bryant possessed, but he did not, in an interview early in his career in the Association. Voices from across the country echoed the same words; unless he gained that desire to deliver the knock-out blow, he would never be perceived as one of the Association’s true greats.
James apparently took those words to heart; as he has become a true “Go-To Player,” over the last few months, winning the NBA Finals MVP trophy as he led the Heat to an NBA Championship in June. Saturday, would be another big step for the current NBA MVP, as he knocked down nine points in the last 4:00 minutes of action, leading Team USA to a 99-94 comeback victory over the talented squad from Lithuania. It was a true coming of age moment for James, as he realized that in order for his squad and his country, to avoid the upset he would have to dominate the game, something he had been reluctant to do in the past.
The 2008 Olympic Games, would be a transformative experience for Bryant, as he learned to be less selfish on the floor and to trust his teammates. That would lead to Bryant and company appearing in the next three NBA Finals series and two NBA Titles. Perhaps these games will teach James that when the game is on the line, he has to think shoot first and pass the ball only as a last alternative.