LeBron James is arguably the best player on the planet and his playoff numbers are astounding, but his he clutch?
On Monday's episode of Undisputed, Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe reacted to an Inpredictable ranking that listed LeBron as the second-most clutch player in the NBA, and Sharpe argued that James has surpassed Michael Jordan as a clutch player in the postseason.
LeBron is the most clutch player of all time
“No, I don’t agree. He should be number one, Skip Bayless, number one. Not number two.
I believe if you make the right play, it can never be the wrong decision. See, Skip Bayless, in his little mind, unless you take the last shot at the buzzer, it’s not clutch.
But let me ask you a question, Skip. In Game 3 of the 2015 Finals, when he stole the ball to ice the game, would you consider that ‘clutch’? What about that block on Andre Iguodala? Would you consider that ‘clutch’?”
Skip Bayless: “Not at all. I told you, J.R. Smith undercut him and stopped [Iguodala] in his tracks and he had to slow down, and LeBron caught up. I give you no clutchness there.”
Ken BlazeKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
In close games, LeBron's shooting percentage is incredible
“Would you consider hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer against the Magic in 2009, would you consider that clutch? What about that game against the Bulls in 2015?”
Skip Bayless: “Yes, definitely.”
Shannon Sharpe: “They say including the playoffs, LeBron is shooting 53 percent from the field in ‘the clutch’ this season, in the final five minutes. Now that’s the way the NBA defines clutch. LeBron is numero uno.”
Jerome MironJerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The numbers speak for themselves
“I’m just going to say this last one, I’ll throw this out there for you because I know you’re going to nibble on this.
In the playoffs in their career, LeBron James [is] 6-of-13 on last-second field goal attempts.
The greatest player in NBA history, so you say, Michael Jordan, is 5-of-11.”
Truly clutch players deliver in the final seconds
“You know, this is amusing to me because when it comes to LeBron James and defending him, especially on the ‘clutch gene,’ the blind witnesses with their blind spots know no bounds.
Obviously you can take these numbers and you can make them sit or stay or roll over. I can take these numbers and make them play dead, because they are extremely misleading numbers. I have told you, again and again and again, the last minute is endless. A million things can happen over the last minute.
I don’t care, really, what somebody does with 55 seconds left, or 45 seconds left or even 35 seconds left, because you know and I know the pressure builds and builds toward what happens over the last 10 seconds, especially the final possession.”
Brian SpurlockBrian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron repeatedly shrinks in the final seconds of games
“We have seen repeatedly in those moments that LeBron James lacks, as I called it, the ‘clutch gene.’ We have seen repeatedly in those moments that LeBron James can be the most mentally fragile superstar we have ever seen.
So let’s go to those last-second moments. LeBron James has played 1,273 games in his career. That’s a lot of games, that’s including the playoffs. In those games, LeBron has four - only four - walkoff jump shots.
I don’t know how many Michael had, it’s hard to go back and count them, but I promise you he had more than four. I covered him in Chicago in 1998, it seemed like he had six or seven in that year alone.”
I've lost respect for LeBron because of his timid approach late in games
“That leads to what we talked about last week… about his free throw issues. He’s got psychological demons with shooting late-game free throws. It has become, according to [ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh] the ‘yips.’ It’s a mental, psychological malady called the yips, where he is afraid of the free throw line in late-game situations. He took only two do-or-die free throws this year, and it was all the way back on December 29th - and then he said ‘I’m out. I’m not going to do this anymore,’ and he quit shooting technical fouls.
By the way, a year ago, he tried 15 do-or-die free throws, and if we go back to 2013-14, he tried 21, and he had a career-high 32 back in ’07-08. So you can see what’s happened. He’s just lost all faith in himself shooting those free throws, late game, standing at the free throw line by himself.
I’ve lost respect for LeBron because he doesn’t have the faith to do what he does best, which is freight-train to the basket and risk that he’s goingto get hammered by three defenders and sent to the free throw line - because all you have to do is stand there by yourself and make two free throws to tie or win the game. He’s just quit trying to do that.”