by Micah Hart
A lot of disagreement out there in the NBA atmosphere about the finish to the Heat-Jazz game tonight in Utah, a game the Jazz won 99-98. On the game’s final play, LeBron James slipped a pass to his teammate Udonis Haslem, who missed a potential game-winning jumper just before the buzzer sounded. Many think LeBron should have taken the final shot. Others say he made the correct decision to hit the open man. Who is right and who is wrong? We take sides:
Bron’s strengths are known and undeniable. He led the Heat from down double digits, including two huge shots in the final minute. He just came from another last-possession gaffe in the All-Star game, in which he inexplicably passed the ball across court (into the arms of an opposing player). So with seconds left and a chance to win the game in Utah, he had a chance to redeem. He passed again. Yes, Haslem was open. Yes it was the “right” basketball play. But if you’re the best player, you can’t keep deferring on the final play. I’m not talking about a single play here…I’m talking about a pattern. – Zettler Clay
I’m no LeBron lover, but the guy can’t win for trying. It’s not like he passed up a wide-open shot for himself, he drew the coverage and made the correct play to a teammate for a wide-open shot. This is the NBA – every player on the court save the Joel Anthonys of the world should be relied upon to make open shots, and the mid-range jumper is Haslem’s bread and butter. It’s probably why they drew that play up in the first place. People on Twitter keep saying things like “MJ would never pass there”, but I seem to recall Steve Kerr hitting a rather important game-winner in a deciding Finals game. — Micah Hart
Yes, Kerr knocked down that jumper at the top of the key. But that was an exception to the Jordan mythology. Bron passing on the last shot…is the norm. And hence the rub: People aren’t mad at Bron for making the “right” play. It’s the constant deferring that grates viewers. Here is arguably the most physically gifted player we’ve ever seen, a player who struts his talents and dazzles the whole game…but seems scared of THE moment. Not to mention the fact that, again, he was scorching hot entering the final play. Even a covered Bron close to the rim is a higher percentage than an open Haslem at the key. I would think. – ZC
I get that. And LeBron’s reputation is deserved for how he melted down against the Celtics in 2010 and in the Finals in 2011. But reputation or no, the best way to win basketball games is to play the game correctly. Imagine if the two possessions at the end switched places and had reverse outcomes — LeBron hits Haslem for a wide-open jumper, then misses a crazy one-footed fadeaway over two defenders to end it. Is that somehow a better scenario for the Heat just because he ends up taking the shot at the end? Regardless of how you feel, I think we can both agree what should have happened, and what should happen next time. Give the ball to Dwyane Wade. – MH
We’ve stated our cases as to who is right and who is wrong.
What say you?