“Clutch Factor” Does LeBron James possess it?

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OK basketball heads and NBA guru’s, it’s time to dissect the meaning of the word “CLUTCH”. It’s often thrown around in the world of sports to add more emphasis to a big play.

 “Clutch” means performing well under extreme pressure.

Often time it refers to a high level of production in critical moments; for example the final hole of the Masters, or Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the last drive of the Super Bowl etc. Athletes are tagged with being clutch performers based on how they perform in nerve racking situations. I believe that every “GREAT” player should have a clutch gene in their system.

Now over the years I have been a faithful NBA fan, I have watched basketball since the age of 8 and been playing since age 9. I have seen many “CLUTCH” performers in my time, from Reggie Miller, to Michael Jordan. The NBA athlete that seems to get the most critism in the clutch factor topic is  Miami Heat’s forward LeBron James. It’s been argued that he is the best player in the NBA at this point in time, but I believe he is only the best athlete.

   In order for you to have the label of being “the best” you have to shine at the brightest moments. LeBron James simply just shies away from the moment more than he embraces it.

Myself and a host of friends have debated this topic, and I’m asked “What is Clutch?”, and “Who is Clutch?”. The answer is simple: clutch is not just making the last shot, its having the testicular fortitude to TAKE the deciding shot no matter the outcome. Before I go bashing Lebron for not being clutch let me clarify what I mean: James is by far the best player in the NBA through 3 periods. Where I’m having the problem is in the 4th quarter when the game is on the line. Prime example would be last years NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. DeShawn Stevenson says, “LeBron checked out.” Honestly, I can’t remember the last time the best player in the league checked out of an NBA FINALS SERIES.

Here’s the thing: its not that he is missing the shots, he just simply is not TAKING them!! Now I’m not saying he should make every shot but he should at least attempt. In that NBA Finals series Game 4 he took 11 shots in 45 minutes of action. Now what STAR do you know that takes only 11 shots in an NBA Final?

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The bottom line is, LeBron James is not a finished product there are still some microscopic holes in his game. It just so happens that being a clutch performer is one of the holes I’m talking about. Even after last June, James is still not delivering the goods down the stretch. Its starting to look like LeBron James is just not built that way, at the end of games he has become passive; more of a facilitator.

                What’s wrong with LeBron not taking the clutch shots, and passing to the open man?

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    I’m almost 100% sure that Pat Riley did not sign Lebron James for him to throw fancy bounce passes. No, he acquired LeBron James as well as Chris Bosh to WIN .  Dwayne Wade did not take a pay cut for James to come to on board and not shine when the lights are on.

        Even early on in this season he is being more passive and less aggressive which is benefiting the opposing teams. The “KING” is a lousy 1-9 in situations where his team is down by three or the score is tied up, during the final 24 seconds of a game/overtime. James’ most recent relapse came last Friday night in Salt Lake City, when the Heat took on the Utah Jazz. Its been said he made the right play to pass to Udonis Haslem in his sweet spot, at the free throw line extended elbow. Yes, that is a shot Haslem makes 7 out of 10 times, but my man… when the game is on the line you take that shot!

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That’s what seperates LeBron James from Kobe Bryant. Kobe has that killer instinct; when your down he is trying to step on your throat, whereas LeBron will lend a helping hand. Now, with that being said, in Salt Lake City and even the All Star Game I believe LeBron James should have taken both shots. You have to understand the RIGHT play, the good teammate play, was to pass the ball to Haslem. But the BEST play would have been to take the shot. It doesn’t make you a ballhog, it reflects leadership and lets your team know you they are in good hands. Its not like they don’t want LeBron James to shoot it, they look to him and he looks to someone else…c’mon man!

    Bloggers and writers say that if Kobe misses a game winning shot we don’t crucify him, but if its LeBron we won’t hear the last of it. Unfortunately, Kobe is a PROVEN clutch performer and a champion, another thing that seperates the two athletes. Just being honest, the media will not rest until the “KING” wins a RING!

     Maybe its not who he is, LeBron James is very capable of making big shots…its all a matter of TAKING it. Even if he misses, who would you rather have take the shot? Udonis Haslem? No, I want the ball in the hands of my BEST player, if he misses then he just misses! Its apart of the game, point blank period.

I’m definetly not taking anything away from LeBron James as a basketball player, he is a tremendous talent and a nice guy. As far as him being clutch remains to be seen, he has worked hard on his post game over the summer from what I can tell. Now he just needs to become “THAT GUY”, so whatever LeBron James does in the regular season is irrelevant to me. I expect him to put up stellar numbers. I want to see im do it in June when it matters.

               I mean, what really defines clutch? Is LeBron James clutch? If you ask me he is to a certain extent, let’s see how he does in June.

* Follow me on Twitter @JdotBras, feel free to check out blog at thesportsoutlaw.com, visit our crew of talented writers at sportsblogmovement.wordpress.com 

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5 Comments

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5 responses to ““Clutch Factor” Does LeBron James possess it?

  1. I think the problem with LeBron is that he seems to not want to take that last shot. He needs to take control and take that last shot.

  2. I think LeBron is damned if he does or damned if he doesn’t. If he shoots that shot and misses, he’s crucified for not passing to the open man. Because he passed, he should have shot it. They say with great ability comes responsibility, so we shall see what happens. It’s all a learning curve and he has had some clutch moments in his career. To say he’s never been clutch is taking a microscopic look at his career. How quickly people forget the performance he had in the Palace where he carried that Cleveland team to the Finals. I think more folks are zooming in on him now because the bonehead mistake of “the Decision”. I think that even if LeBron wins a championship, his detractors will still say he did something wrong. I believe he will break thru eventually. It’s only a matter of time.

    • I don’t believe that one clutch performance makes you a clutch player, and do it when it counts most I’m looking back over his career and very little do I remember of him being clutch, and it comes with time he is in his 9th season next year will be his 10th when will he learn??If he takes those shots no he won’t still be crucified. Lebron James is a great player man not arguing that at all he just has to shine when its that time, step into the moment, as a great you relish moments like that it solidifies your legacy when you were a kid and played in the backyard immitating the greats you imitated those clutch moments like Jordan when he switched hands in mid air of the finals, or When he had 38 in the finals and had the flu, Lebron has done nothing close to that in the finals he doesn’t have a moment like that and to call yourself King James what do you have to show for it Kobe has had his moments in the finals I don’t care about the reg season buzzer beater I’m talking about a clutch performance in the Finals he has had 2 opportunities already maybe the third times a charm

      • We disagree about the many clutch moments LeBron has had. Check out the performances against Boston, Chicago last year in the playoffs to go along with the performance at the Palace too.

  3. It’s funny.

    When I look at LeBron, I think back to that night against Detroit where he scored Cleveland’s last 25 points (or however many it was) to knock off the Pistons. It was one of, if not the most, dominant late performances I had ever seen.

    Since then, we’ve all wondered why the heck he can’t do that all the time.

    Personally, I think the Heat will get it together this June and bring home the championship. Whether that means we’ll start calling him clutch again remains to be seen in how the playoffs unfold.

    Rest assured, however, if the Heat DON’T win it all, this will not be the last time an “Is LeBron crutch” piece is written.

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