It seems like it happened 50,000 years ago at this point, but LeBron James did hit a series-clinching jumper in Game 7 of the NBA Finals less than a week ago. I seent it with my own eyes. I seent it.
And though it was just a handful of days ago, that’s been more than enough time for LeBron himself to put that 20-footer in to proper historical perspective. From a Point Forward excerpt of a Sports Illustrated piece from Lee Jenkins:
James uncorked 20 shots outside the paint in Game 7, the most since he arrived in South Florida three years ago. He drained nine, including five three-pointers. But with 33 seconds left, Miami was only up by two, and James bounced the ball on the blazing Heat logo at midcourt. He was back in the ring of fire. With the floor expertly spaced by Spoelstra, guard Mario Chalmers darted up from the post to set a screen on Leonard at the left elbow, and James bounded around it. Parker switched onto him, but James planted his left shoulder into Parker’s chest, sending him stumbling backward. Leonard recovered, tossing out a hand to contest, but James did not hesitate. He pulled up from 20 feet, easy as an August afternoon at St. V, with the same result. “I know it wasn’t the magnitude of MJ hitting that shot in ’98, but I definitely thought about him,” James said. “It was an MJ moment.” He paused as a turn of phrase came to mind. “It was an LJ moment.”
At first maybe you’re like, “Yeah total MJ moment, like how he’s famous for all those last-second jumpers that extended leads and not game-winners. Silly LeBron James.” And you know, fair enough. But do remember that Michael Jordan’s last title-winner, the one against the Jazz, came with 5.2 seconds remaining, which means Utah did have a chance to completely negate the now-legendary shot. A game-winner can be a game-winner even if it doesn’t technically 100 percent win the game. It’s complicated, but you know what I mean.
And when you think about it like that, yeah that jumper was an MJ moment. LeBron James’ team needed a basket to win the NBA championship, and LeBron James went and got that basket from a place that could be filmed from multiple camera angles. The only thing that could be more MJ about it is if it were made in to a commercial, which I guarantee will happen sometime in the next two decades.
Now the only thing LeBron James has to do for another MJ moment is to get gypped out of his third straight MVP award, then drop half a hundred on the guy who stole his award in the Finals while leading his team to their third straight title. I’d say this seems ludicrous, but he’s nailed the first two-thirds of the first Bulls three-peat, so why not finish it off?