Cris Carter on why LeBron’s free throw struggles could derail him from surpassing MJ as the GOAT

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In his discussion with Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe surrounding Cleveland's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Cris Carter unveils why he believes LeBron's free throw struggles could potentially derail him from surpassing Michael Jordan as the GOAT.

- This is the thing, Jenna. This won't go away. Because if you're ever going continue the conversation, is he the greatest ever, this right here is going to be one of the glaring holes. His finals record and his free throw shooting, he will never be able to approach Michael Jordan.

So then it becomes very, very hard, like, what's your argument? 'Cause especially, free throw shooting late, it is critical. And you wouldn't expect someone of his ability to struggle at the free throw line.

JENNA WOLFE: Tell me why you struggle at the-- is it mental? It has to be mental, because it's a shot that you can practice for 24 hours a day. It's always going to be the same shot. How does LeBron let one mental thing seep into his game?

- OK, hold on a second. Hold on, hold on, hold on. The guy is not a great free throw shooter at any point in the game, right? He's around league average. That is the biggest-- if we're talking about picking apart the game, which we're going to do if we're calling somebody the greatest ever or one of the greatest ever, it's a fair thing to pick apart.

He's around a 75% free throw shooter for his career. A 75% shooter, in those situations, instead of being 8 of 17 would be 12 of 17, right? So we're talking about four missed free throws. Two of those were intentionally missed. So we're talking about two missed free throws, afar from his career average.

So the mental part of it, I personally don't buy into. I mentioned the most pressure-packed free throws of his life to win championships, he made. But I want to just go back to something Cris said, real-- go ahead, CC.

CRIS CARTER: Free throw shooting is two things. One part is mental, Jenna. You are right, it is mental. Other thing, it's his shooting stroke, all right?


- He's changed his shooting motion at the free throw line at least five or six times during his career. He's working with something else different now. He's taking one step off the free throw line, then getting up. And talking to someone who I know is a great shooter, LeBron's motion. He brings the ball from down by his knees, so the reaction on the shot, he gets a big bounce, compared to other guys who start a softer motion, 'bout from right here at their face, and just shoot their free throw. LeBron brings the ball down by his knees and brings the ball up.

He believes-- 'cause I discussed it with him last week-- he believes that's his problem. So yes, it is mental, because when you are shooting from the 3-point line and you can shoot the array of shots that LeBron can shoot-- contested, one balance, bank shot, shooting with his left hand-- it becomes mental. But it's also the fundamental thing of, his stroke at the free throw line, he does not-- this is something he has not conquered. He's shot thousands of free throws, but this part, he has not been able to overcome.

- I agree.

- Yeah.

- I agree with that entirely. The point that I was making is, it would be more concerning if LeBron were a 90% free throw shooter and then had these late game struggles.


- It's been a fair knock on him--

CRIS CARTER: But it's a greater sample size. The 90% would cancel out the clutch. Because you'd be like, man, over the course of his career, he's 90%.


- Like--

NICK WRIGHT: It would be more glaring if a guy who's a great free throw shooter-- if this were Steph, it's more glaring. Like a guy hits a mediocre free throw shooter, which is what he is, struggling this season, late in games, is not that shocking. It's not an excuse. I said it's the biggest indictment on him.

CRIS CARTER: I'm just going to tell you, there was nothing about Michael Jordan's game that was mediocre. There's no point in his game, anything, passing, there's nothing you could say about his game that was mediocre.