(turn to 36 seconds for MJ's Shot)
At last night's NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, LeBron James had the type of jaw-dropping yet asterisk needing performance for which his career has become known.
With the East down by double digits in the 4th quarter, James-who finished with 36 points (6-8 3pt) 7 assists and 6 rebounds, almost single-handedly, and in a beyond dominant, dazzling fashion which said "I am by far the star- on this court of stars" brought them back, and with 6 seconds left, held the ball and the team's fate in his hands.
James had earned the right to take the shot, not only by his performance that night, but by the very nature of his unmistakably unparalleled abilities.
And yet, he passed...again. In fact, he turned the ball over.
One need not be a "body language expert" to see what was going on in LeBron's head, as he once again treated the ball as an explosive device nearing detonation : "Get this ball out of my hands-I don't want this responsibility"
In an All-Star Game.
At his last All-Star Game in 2003, Michael Jordan had no such reservations with the game on the line in overtime. Despite being 40 years old, despite up until that point missing 18 of 26 shots attempted, including a potential game-winner at the end of regulation (oh and an embarrassing- "My time has passed" missed dunk), Michael Jordan understood the magnitude of the moment, understood he had earned the right to take that shot, understood-that as in life, while you can't miss the shots you don't take, you also can't make them.
So with Shawn Marion draped on him like white on rice, Michael took a seemingly impossible fade away, not because it was the "highest percentage shot", or was the play that was brilliantly drawn up, but because he's Michael Fu*king Jordan, and well, that's reason enough.
And oh, he made it. But the point is not that the shot went in, it's that he was prepared, he was willing, to miss it. At 30, at 40, in the Finals or in an All-Star Game, Michael had the nerve and the ball.
Meanwhile, James, feet freezing, would rather delegate responsibility, would rather have a post-game press conference to say "I wish I had that one -that pass, that turnover- back", then to say "I took the shot and I missed-bottom line".
Oh well, maybe LeBron will figure it by the time he gets to 40 huh?
Be Good Friends,
(And yes I know Jermaine O'Neal committed a foul with 3 seconds left that not only cost the East the Game, but Michael Jordan's shot a prominent spot in All-Star Game lore. I just like to pretend the game ended with Jordan's shot)