LeBron James is the first NBA superstar of the social media age, and with that has come a microscopic level of scrutiny — seemingly often from people who do not know the game.
The latest idiotic bit of criticism of LeBron comes from his decision to pass to Kyle Korver in the corner for a good look three with under one minute to go in the game and the Cavaliers up two. Korver missed, Kevin Durant took the ball the other way and hit what would prove to be the game-winner.
The criticism is that LeBron should have shot rather than passed. Which is stupid on multiple levels. Of course, LeBron was asked about that play after the game and if he would do it differently if he could do it over again.
“If I could have the play over again, I would come off a three screen situation,” LeBron said. “Draymond would switch on me with five fouls. I would get him leaning. I would drive left. I would see K.D. step up. I would see Stephen Curry drop on Kevin. And I would see Kyle Korver in the corner, one of the greatest three-point shooters in this league’s history, and give him an opportunity in the short corner. I would do the same exact thing.”
LeBron has been criticized since before he won his first ring for making plays like this — he chose to make the right basketball play rather than jack up a contested shot, and fans get on him if the shot doesn’t fall. He gets the blame for not playing hero ball, even though we can watch the team smacking the Cavaliers around in the Finals to see why hero ball is not how you win big.
Here are some other thoughts.
• Kyle Korver shot 59 percent on left corner threes this season, he was 50 percent from the left corner in the playoffs (7-of-14). He is fifth on the NBA’s all-time list of most made three-pointers in a career. It’s not like LeBron passed it to Tristan Thompson for a three, this is Kyle Freakin’ Korver.
• LeBron was not driving directly at the rim, so you’re talking a leaner over multiple defenders, including Durant’s length. That is not a high percentage shot, not as good as Korver from the corner.
• No, you don’t know that Draymond Green would have fouled him. Green’s a smart player who had gone five minutes without fouling out, and again the help defender was there. If you’re saying that LeBron should have driven at him, well…
“I had a 101 drives last night (laughter). I didn’t have 101, but you get the gist of it,” James said. “I’m sorry I didn’t go for 102.”
• LeBron had a 39/11/9 night, he was +7 in the game — the Cavaliers were -12 in the 2:23 he was rested. But sure, it’s his fault they lost.
• A lot of the criticism of LeBron online (especially Twitter) seems to come from the self-appointed guardians of the legacies of Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan. People emotionally invested in seeing LeBron fail because they falsely believe it makes their guy look better (these people love the “count the ringzzzzz” argument). I’m pretty sure I remember Jordan passing to Steve Kerr and John Paxson in key moments. I’m pretty sure I remember Kobe Bryant passing to Derek Fisher or Robert Horry or Shaq in key moments. Would Kobe have taken that shot? Probably. But his clutch numbers suggest that may not have been the best option.