Against the Miami Heat, down by one with 8.9 seconds left, the Lakers had possession and inbounded the ball to LeBron James at the top of the key. James drove the ball on Jimmy Butler, and as the defense collapsed on him, he kicked it out to a wide-open Cam Reddish in the corner.
Reddish missed the shot as Austin Reaves desperately tried to reach the ball for a tip-in or putback but couldn’t get anywhere near as time expired.
The Lakers clawed back from 13 but fall in Miami, 108-107, with Cam Reddish’s potential game winner not falling at the buzzer. LAL is 3-4 in the season (0-4 on the road). HOU next on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/FAHOrmrm0r— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 7, 2023
Given a mulligan, James is prepared to make that same pass to Reddish and will do so again in the future.
“Be ready again because there will be many more opportunities, especially from me,” James said postgame. “I know I’m going to see two defenders late in games, so just be ready.”
Throughout his career, fans have clamored for James to play hero ball in those closing seconds, open shooters be dammed, but just like he did on Monday, James has consistently made the right basketball play over going for his glory.
“One thing about LeBron is, his whole career, he’s been killed for making the right play late games instead of shooting. That’s who he is and everybody’s not loved that about him but that’s who he continues to be and he trusts his teammates” Reaves said after the loss regarding James’ late-game decision-making. “As soon as he walked into the locker room, he dapped everybody up and went straight to Cam and was like ‘Nah, that’s a good shot. A situation like that happens again, we’re going to give it right back to you and you’re going to knock it down.’ That’s major. That happened to me in the past with LeBron. It’s just a sense of confidence, self-belief that he bleeds into you in moments like that.”
You can go through just James’ tenure in L.A. and find countless times he has gone with the open shooter instead of taking a contested shot. Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals comes to mind when a wide-open Danny Green missed the series ending three.
Or the 2021 first-round matchup versus the Suns, where a struggling Kentavious Caldwell Pope opted to pass an open three and James immediately went up to his and said, “I want you to shoot.”
“I WANT YOU TO SHOOT”— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 26, 2021
Bron hyping up KCP pic.twitter.com/OOlbQ9kscg
This has always been James’ M.O. and in Year 21, it’s not going to change. Hopefully, though, the next time a James teammate takes that shot, it goes in.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.