LeBron lacks the killer instinct, or Kidd’s last laughby Brad Allis on Jun. 09, 2011, under Uncategorized
By Brad Allis
Somewhere M.J. is shaking his head. Somewhere Kobe is chuckling. Somewhere Russell is counting his rings and looking confused at the screen.
Three of the greatest winners in NBA history know LeBron is not one of them. Not yet, and if he does not make some fundamental changes to his game, he never will be.
Never mind that Dirk Nowitzki has outscored him 52-11 in the fourth quarter, including an 8-2 advantage in game five. That is an issue, a huge issue, but not the worst part of it.
The issue is that James lacks a killer instinct, especially when it comes to exploiting a weakness.
If Jordan or Kobe found a weakness they exploited it. Over and over. This was not just true in the playoffs, but in life. Jordan and Kobe were never worried about being liked, only being great.
If they had their own weakness they got rid of it. Jordan went from being a mediocre shooter, to one of the best jump shooters in the game. He later added a number of post moves, when flying to the hole was no longer his great strength.
The great winners were always developing and getting better. Dwight Howard got sick of hearing about how he was a below average offensive player and spent the summer working out with Hakeem.
Kobe and Jordan lived in the gym, changing their games.
Dirk was once known for being soft and struggling late in games. Think he’s soft now? That one-footed fade-away is his money shot, nearly impossible to defend, but as evidenced in game two and game four, if he sees a mismatch he’ll exploit it. In both cases, with the game on the line, he had a big man defending him. He eschewed the jumper, and took the ball to the hole for go-ahead lay-ups.
The Mavs won both games.
With James shrinking in the fourth quarter, the Mavs dared to defend him with Jason Kidd. Kidd is four inches shorter, at least 40 pounds lighter and 11 years older, and slower. So what did LeBron do? Settled for jumpers, and not many of them at that.
If Kobe got matched up with Kidd he would take him to the hole over and over until the opposing coach made the switch. Kobe, or half a dozen of other great wings, would either blow by him or post him up. If you put a player who was four inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter, Kobe would exploit it over and over.
Guarding LeBron with Kidd would be like guarding Kobe with Steve Nash, it just shouldn’t work. But it did.
James scored two points in the fourth quarter. He should be able to run right by Kidd, who even in his prime was not a great defender. James being over 250 pounds, compared to Kidd’s 210, should be able to just back him down and muscle him.
He never tried.
If you tried to guard Jordan with Isaiah Thomas, he’d laugh at you. If you tried to guard Larry Bird with Andrew Toney, he’d take advantage of it for days.
Rick Carlisle was able to put Jason Kidd on LeBron James and now heads to Miami up three games to two.
The Heat may still win the championship, but they are a work in progress. I’d argue that James has as many physical gifts of any player in the history of the NBA, but he refuses to use them. Why he has not developed a pure post game baffles me. He is almost the same size as Karl Malone. Sure Malone had a nice jumper, but he is the NBA’s second all-time leading scorer because he could score in the post. Well that and the pick and roll.
LeBron has obviously tried to become Magic Johnson. He is clearly trying to be a facilitator, a passer. That is great, but Johnson had a killer instinct. He was great in the post. The Showtime Lakers practically invented posting up the point guard (something ironically, Kidd is very adept at). Magic was another player who kept adjusting his game.
For James it is not a case of not working hard, he’s a worker. It is a case of working smart. Win or lose, James should be working with a big man coach this summer and learn post-up moves.
That’s what the winners do. That’s what someone with a killer instinct does.
Can LeBron become that guy?