One week ago against the Jazz, LeBron James drove for a potential game-winning shot and when two defenders came to him he passed off to Udonis Haslem, who missed the shot. NBA fans screamed, “Why didn’t he take that shot? Why is he afraid of the big moment?”
On Wednesday night in the final minute of a tight game, Dwyane Wade passed the ball three times – twice to Haslem, once to Chris Bosh — and got the assist on all three when the guys drained their open looks. Nobody accuses Wade of fearing the moment.
Is it just the result that matters, or does making the pass to the open man count for something? Fans want “hero ball” shots, but statics will tell you that is not usually the most efficient way to score at the end of games.
Both Wade and LeBron spoke with Tom Haberstroh of ESPN’s Heat Index about taking those hero shots at the end. LeBron pointed to Michael Jordan as a guy who did both.
“At times you need hero-ball,” James said. A lot of big shots have come from big games from hero-ball. Michael Jordan has made shots that you’d call hero-ball, and you don’t take those from him.”…
“But he’s also made the play where he passed to John Paxson or passed to Steve Kerr for the game-winner,” James said. “You just play the game the right way and do whatever it takes in that point in time.”
Wade said it’s about feel.
“We all grew up in an era watching Michael Jordan and obviously Kobe Bryant,” Wade said. “A lot of those guys make unbelievable shots to win games. A lot of fans want to see their favorite players take those shots. Hit or miss, they want to see them take those shots….
“For those of us who play the game of basketball, sometimes that shot is there and you feel it and you take it,” Wade said. “And sometimes it’s not and you understand that someone might have a better shot than you.”
Ultimately, fans will forgive players who pass if the shot falls, but if it doesn’t he takes heat.
Except for LeBron. He’s painted into a corner. He passed at the end of the All-Star Game and last weekend against the Jazz and it didn’t work out either time. If he had taken the shots and missed he would have heard about that. If he had taken those shots and made them both his critics would say it doesn’t matter in an exhibition and then regular season game. Until LeBron wins a ring and plays well in the finals he cannot shake his rep.
Even if passing is the right basketball play to make.