Yes, LeBron James actually made the right play

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James passed to an open Chris Bosh for the game-winning shot and is being second-guessed for it, again. It's really a shame that the world's best player gets criticized for playing smart team basketball.

SB Nation 2014 NBA Playoff Bracket

Why does reality apply to LeBron James?

That's the stirring question raised by basketball theorist Gregg Doyel in his latest commentary on Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, won by the Indiana Pacers, 93-90. James, the Miami Heat star, had the ball and a two-point deficit with 12 seconds remaining. He set up a potential game-winner for teammate Chris Bosh, but the shot missed and the Heat lost. They will have the opportunity to clinch the series on Friday at home.

Doyel, on the altruism of LeBron and its potential outcomes:

The right play at that moment, final seconds of a potential closeout game to reach the NBA Finals, is for LeBron James to rise up in a show of power and fury and shove the ball through the basket. If Hibbert's hand or arm is in the way, then Hibbert's hand or arm gets shoved through the basket, too. Sometimes the right basketball play isn't an unselfish page clipped neatly from a coach's manual, but a greedy, hungry, emphatic display of this is my world. [...]

[E]nough with the right basketball play. Enough. [...] This was LeBron's moment to ignore the right play and get selfish and get nasty, but LeBron doesn't have that particular gene. Jordan did, as you know, but LeBron does not -- and that's one of the most unique, even beautiful things about his game. As good as he is, he's happy to share the ball, even to a fault.

And that finish, that was his fault.

Translated from Doyelese to English:

I am tired of LeBron, the best basketball player in the world, making the right basketball plays. I wish he'd start making the wrong plays more often. Then maybe he wouldn't be the best player in the world anymore. Because then he'd be making the wrong basketball plays, you see. I prefer to see sports as a morality tale, and so I value aggressive, manhood-waving idiocy over proper decision-making.

Here is a decision flowchart for superstars showing "the right play" based on Doyel's basketball philosophy.


I must say, Mr. Doyel has intriguing ideas about basketball.

In all seriousness, I had thought the nonsense about LeBron's mental, psychological and intestinal fortitude had been settled by, you know, his two rings. Guess what? There is a well-documented history of *gasp* Michael Jordan passing to a lesser teammate in a critical moment. LeBron passed to Bosh, a guy on his way to, at the very least, a Hall of Fame debate. Jordan passed to Steve Kerr ... in the Finals.

If you're going to base your current analysis of basketball on some aspect of history, know your freaking history. Use your brain instead of your gut. Make the right sports column play.


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