Last night, LeBron James had the ball and an opportunity to win the game for the Eastern Conference with 15 seconds left and Kobe Bryant guarding him. So what’d he do? He passed. And then he got the ball back 10 seconds later. And then he passed again. According to Adrian Wojnarowski’s awesome piece on Yahoo today, Kobe had some choice words for James.
Here’s the thing, too: James knows Bryant goes to great lengths to belittle his unwillingness to rise up in the final moments of his biggest games. Bryant has five titles to James’ none, and had to bail James out in the fourth quarter of the gold-medal game of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Now Kobe was within inches, screaming into James’ face, “Shoot the [expletive] ball!” And, still, LeBron’s instincts weren’t to take ball and deliver it down Bryant’s throat. Score on Kobe, win the game and tell him to go to hell. Bryant would respect that.
So would Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson. Larry Bird. LeBron James is different. He’s probably better than all of them, but nothing in his DNA demanded that he go after Bryant there, that he destroy him in that moment.
“Yeah, he was telling me to shoot it,” James said. “I wish I could have that one back.”
So Lebron, next time you have a chance to win a game in the fourth quarter, remember this: