Fair or not, deserved or not, the national narrative on LeBron James has been that he wasn’t clutch. For all the games he took over, despite some impressive endings, the perception that he quit in Game 5 against the Celtics last season seemed the dominant memory for many.
LeBron doesn’t have a ring. Kobe has a ring. Wade had a ring. That made those two more clutch in the eyes of many.
That perception should be changed now.
LeBron took over at the end of Game 2 Wednesday night, getting 9 of his points in the final four-plus minutes of the game, plus he spent a chunk of his time covering and shutting down Derrick Rose on defense. In a game where the Miami Heat had to grab defensive rebounds, he had 10 boards. In the Heat’s biggest game of the season, he played his best.
Or maybe his best was last series against Boston, when he flat out took over the end of a couple games.
Either way, the narrative is changing. Look what Adrian Wojnarowski wrote at Yahoo.
This was clutch, winning basketball out of James. As closers go, this was pure Jordan, pure heartbreak.
“That’s why we put the ball in his hands,” Dwyane Wade(notes) said. “He’s going to make the big plays.”
Clutchness gets defined in odd ways. Some great shots or missed opportunities weigh more heavily than others. It’s a matter or perception, with some eye-of-the-beholder thrown in. Tom Haberstroh of ESPN tweeted this on Wednesday.
90% of clutch reputation can be explained by two factors: 1) Are you a shot-creator?; 2) Do you have a ring?
Coming into these playoffs, a lot of basketball fans would have said that LeBron was not clutch. He did not have that ring.
Things seem to be changing on both of those counts.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!