My Rant: The Critique of Lebron and my look at the NBA

I have struggled to hold back because I do not know who really cares what I think but I have leaked a few tweets and sparked too many discussions with my friends about the critique surrounding LeBron James.
First, let me make a few points: I believe Michael Jordan is the best and greatest NBA player of all time. I believe currently, Kevin Durant (who I like more as a player; and is quickly improving his entire game - I wish I could play like Durant!) is the best scorer in the NBA - but this rant is going to focus on LeBron. I never thought I would be a LeBron apologist but the critique of his performances have gone too far.
No player has ever been asked to do more than LeBron James. LeBron is being asked to play over 40 minutes per game (approx. 43 mins), to bring the ball up the court, to be the primary rebounder, to be the 30 point scorer, to guard the best player (no matter the position from point guard Rondo to center KGarnett), to guard the post, and then to finish games.
Guarding the post, bring the ball up the court, and defending the best player zaps energy and requires immense focus and discipline. Post defense is 10x (I was going to say 100x but then I felt it would be exaggerating) more tiring than guarding any wing player. In the post you are constantly using your legs as leverage, must constantly focus on position (one wrong slide step and you are sealed for an easy lob giving up a dunk), and consistently have 500lbs of force against your body.

Bringing the ball up the court requires the focus of zig zagging against pressure, getting your teammates involved, and starting the offense. In the NBA this player is constantly having their defender reach in, bump, and pressure you up the entire court. Further zapping energy and requiring focus (nothing is worse than being ripped and having your defender throw down a break away).

Being the primary rebounder requires positioning, physical pushing, leg leverage, and all out leaps for the ball. This prevents the player from quickly transitioning the other way to gain the advantage of mismatches or 3-2 opportunities.

Guarding the best player - is self explanatory. But what other player during 1 game guards all 5 positions? Maybe during a career arc when a player slows down or has a body transformation it may occur - but never in the NBA has it happened during one playoff game. Lebron will guard Rondo then Pierce, then Garnett.

I will fully agree with the critique of LeBron stating "LeBron fears risking failure." This is his primary and possibly sole fault. LeBron is hypersensitive to perception. LeBron does not want to risk failure. LeBron worries of the what if - what if I miss and this is considered a bad shot, what if I make the right pass and the shot is missed; instead of saying this is what I want to do on the basketball court and not worrying about the reaction of others LeBron works through a prism and thought process that makes him hesitate and not trust his instincts. LeBron has closed games but he has not lived up to the belief he should close every game - Jordan did not close every game but he risked trying to; that is what made Jordan great his insanely competitive determination and the fact he would risk failing in the eyes of others because he would do what he thought was best no matter what any one else thought. (This is why I do love Durant - after the shot versus the Grizzlies - Durant explained how he knew the shot would be considered a poor shot but did not care because he knew he would make it)

But the real reason for the Heat's struggles in my humble opinion are because of LeBron's #2 and his coach.

When Jordan was in his prime his #2 (the greatest #2 of all time) helped Jordan excel. Pippen would guard the best player on the court, bring the ball up the court, and be the primary rebounder (with the help of Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman). Jordan would then close and take over in the 4th quarter. Why does DWade not help? Does Wade bring the ball up the court? No. Does Wade guard the best player? No, when Wade guards Rondo it is a penetration clinic. When Wade guards Pierce the game becomes a Celtic post up show. Does Wade finish games? Yes and when he does it is asked why did Lebron sit back. This is the primary problem with the Decision - Lebron and Wade to not fit together well. On a complete side note do you know who would be the best 1-2 punch in the NBA? Lebron and Durant. Lebron now does the rebounding, the defending, the distributing, creating for others - Durant does the closing finishing, scoring. Durant spaces the court with his insane shooting ability. In fact, Durant's movement without the basketball simply highlights his ability to score at a clip unparalleled in the NBA.
Coaches - all players have faults. No player is perfect. The coach must help the player overcome this weakness. Jordan struggled to trust his teammates - until Phil Jackson helped with this weakness the Bull's struggled in the playoffs despite him scoring 63 points versus the Celtics. LeBron has never had a coach help him with his fault - has never helped him overcome his weakness. Durant last year did not force the ball in his hands - but his coach and his team helped.

Final point to this ridiculous rant: Buzzer beating shots

Why is it expected that LeBron James finish games by going to the rim? When did this become the right basketball play? No NBA player finishes down the stretch at the rim. That is why Dirk developed his elbow post up game. That is why Jordan had his go to fade away. All shots to close games are jump shots. When going to the rim NBA officials are not going to give you the call. After playing 40+ minutes getting to the rim is even more difficult. At the end of games teams over commit to their help defense forcing the kick out (think about Kerr and Paxon with Jordan - Horry and Fischer with Kobe; in the NBA drives create double teams forcing the kick out pass).

I have asked my friends - name a situation where a game winning NBA playoff shot occurred on a drive to the rim? Besides LeBron versus the Pistons in his epic performance no one has thought of one. If you do please let me know.

I enjoy the NBA playoffs and I am excited to watch the rest of this drama unfold. I hope you enjoy the games too.

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