LeBron fatigue … it’s real!

VIDEO: LeBron James and Jimmy Butler get tangled up on the baseline Sunday

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Like most anyone with eyeballs and a remote control, I took in the career-high 61-point performance from LeBron James and wondered if the energy and effort expended on a night like that was worth the wear and tear it takes to deliver it.

A week and four interesting performances later, I’m still not sure.

My Monday sparring partner on almost every debatable topic — NBA TV research ace Kevin Cottrell, who usually helps me make a mess of our production meetings for The Beat with Vince Cellini, David Aldridge and yours truly every Monday on NBA TV — did what you’d expect a research expert to do with the topic. He dug even deeper and formulated an interesting theory on a phenomenon we’ll call LeBron Fatigue … turns out it might actually be real:

Statistically speaking, LeBron James is on track to become one of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA. However, his most recent stretch of games are troubling.

After scoring a career-high 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, LeBron scored a total of 58 in the following three games. For many players, 19.3 ppg would be their best week ever. For LeBron, it was a cause for panic, a shedding of the face mask and complaining of a wardrobe malfunction. Worst of all, that average coincided with a season-high three-game losing streak.

61 point Game vs 3 Game Slump

vs Bobcats​          Next 3 Games

61        POINTS      58

22/33      FG           23/59*

8/10       3P            1/9

*3-for-27 FG outside the paint

LeBron’s 3-for-27 shooting outside the paint is good for 11.1 percent, the worst three-game stretch of shooting (outside the paint) in his career. To be clear, it’s not the percentage that is cause for concern, but his unwillingness to get to the free-throw line.

In his last two games — against Chicago and Washington — LeBron did not attempt a free-throw, which had not taken place in back-to-back games since his rookie season. Furthermore, he’s only had 10 instances in which he did not attempt a free throw in his 824 game career.

LeBron is in search of many more rings and realistically speaking, Michael Jordan‘s six-ring total is obtainable. At the conclusion of his Bulls’ first three-peat, Jordan was 29 when he completed his ninth season (before retiring for 18 months) and winning three more. However, MJ did miss 64 games in his second season after breaking his foot. So there were resting periods prior to both his title runs.

James and the Heat have already appeared in three straight Finals. James, 28, concluded his 10th season having never missed more than six games in a season. The Miami Heat are trying to become the first team since the 1983-87 Celtics to reach four consecutive Finals, but it will be tough with a banged-up James. He’s battled back soreness and, most recently, a broken nose.

Will this maintenance plan cost him the MVP award? Maybe, but there was no guarantee he’d win it anyway. Besides the Heat rely on LeBron to be their best scorer, rebounder and passer not to mention their best defender on a nightly basis. Remember, Jordan had Scottie Pippen to defend the opposition’s best player, the Heat will rely on LBJ to shut down the Pacers’ Paul George. On Monday, Miami clinched a playoff berth defeating the Wizards 99-90. That’s the first step in winning a third straight title.

So rest up LeBron, you have enough MVP awards and regular-season feats. Years from now, we won’t discuss how you came out of a three-game midseason slump, but how you did (or didn’t) win three consecutive titles.

VIDEO: LeBron and the Heat shake off their funk and clinch a playoff bid with a win over the Wizards


  1. Erik says:

    MJ and Kobe had a hall of famer coach to guide them through their successful careers. LeBron had mike brown and spoelstra who are still learning how to be an nba head coach. Lets face it, Lebron James and the heat players coach themselves. Spoelstra rarely has anything to do with their success besides telling their players to focus before every game and during every timeouts. It’s obvious the Heat uses raw talent to win games and Spoelstra does not know how to utilize his players to their best potentials. Every player’s performance besides LeBron dips under spoelstra. A good example would be ray allen, best 3 point shooter to ever play shooting at its lowest % this season because the heat tend to play pick up ball instead of using off ball screens and plays to get Allen open. Beasley should not be playing such inconsistent minutes being a beast that he is. Beasley is young, talented, and ready to prove people wrong but are often benched for no reason. Birdman is the player that provides the heat all the rebounding and inside presence the heat needs to start games but Spo never started him instead he’s so stubborn that he inisists on startin bosh and battier as his bigs, which is a joke, if your a team trying to NOT get outrebounded. Oden isn’t being utilized correctly. I understand that he has a maintainance process but the guy is just simply not getting enough consistent touches or minutes to have his mojo back. People don’t realize that Spoelstra does nothing a regular coach does. And if the heat had a legit coach to run this team with this much talent. Watch out.

  2. haidro says:

    all i want to say is to gp do;;ops

  3. dikcthatsekusuks says:

    this article really stinks.

  4. Garry Foulkes says:

    Pippen defended the best players? How many times was Pippen names defensive player of the year? How many times did he lead the league in steels per game? How many did Jordan? Pippen was a great lock down defender but Jordan was better at both ends of the floor

  5. BP says:

    Miami Heat and Lebron are not going to get championship and MVP this year. KD will get score champion and MVP for sure.

  6. zole says:

    Its funny how all the kobe or lebron fans are trying to make Jordans achievements smaller by counting hall of famers in bulls team from 96-98. I wonder do they know any of the player beside Pippen in first three peat 91-93. For example, take bulls team from 91, and try to tell me that Jordan had better support then Kobe or Lebron in any of their championship teams…

  7. Witness says:

    Sorry u don’t know that he won’t

  8. Mikael.M says:

    those morons sound like MJ was the whole team. Chicago Bulls was way better than this Miami Heat . The Bulls had the best coach in the world, do you guys remember Toni Kukoc, do you remember Steve Kerr ? Lebron is a coach player

  9. Karl says:

    That is truly beyond a delusional statement. Fortunately it’s just an opinion, though claiming that LJ is better than MJ or even putting him under the same breath is a disgrace to the game. I don’t know how you can defend that position, especially when lebron continuously makes excuses for his off-nights. Please, it would be acceptable if James wasn’t playing in this soft-league of today,

    LJ will be one of the greatest, if not the greatest our/this generation, (along with Kobe, and few others), but will never reach “GOAT” status … sorry guy. Jordan, Bird, Russell, Robertson, Johnson, Chamberlin,

  10. Ike_Wee_Knicks_Fan says:

    Miami has a great team, shame on star players padding stats just to stay relevant for their endorsement deals..
    LeBron can dunk, he’s great defensively and in the transition, but with 9 seasons in, he depends on his fans.?

  11. bodjee says:

    I think Butler should have got a second technical for the kick to James face.

  12. L says:

    sekou is running out of ideas of write.

  13. Sekou to the rescue! says:

    Come on Sekou, stop this already. It’s getting really disgusting.

  14. NBA Fan says:

    Although lebron is arguably the best player to play the game since Jordan (kobe exempt), this shows he is human after all. I think in a sense there is too much being looked at here. Ultimately, he will be remembered for what he has won and achieved, not the fact that he has had two games without a free throw or is shooting 11% from the field. Im on OKC fan, but above all a basketball fan.

    The only thing these results and stats show to me is that Kevin Durant is the MVP. He is consistently performing on all levels every game. 11 games with 40+ points, 29 games with 25 or more, keeping the thunder in the race for the west and the title. I just cant see how this award can go to Lebron this year. He still is without a shadow of a doubt a monster and one of the best players in the league but KD has eclipsed him this year.

    Let Lebron do his thing. Come the playoffs we will not be talking about his 2/3 game slump, nor will we be talking about his 61 point game. We will be talking about whether or not he has a third ring. OKC v MIA final…..the rest is in the hands of the basketball gods.

  15. Big Al of Bondi says:

    In the end, LeBron is still human. Some people might think he doesn’t ever get tired or can’t be hurt. He may be the best player, but he isn’t God. A bloodied nose incapacitated him, thus the notorious Mask. He needs help from other Heat players not wearing jersey number 3. There were many times when only he and Dwyane carried their team, yet they were successful twice in a row. A three-peat is not possible until everyone else mans up and seriously contributes to the team. The Spurs almost beat them altogether last year, and that’s not because they have a superior lineup. Rather, they were a complete puzzle where every piece is useful. Everybody has roles, important ones to which they all commit, to the point that their stars like Duncan and Parker get to sit out every other game, a luxury the King never had.

  16. nelson says:

    LBJ is not the best defender, that will be wade. MJ always defended the best offensive player all the time. Always looking for excuses to make LeBron look good.

    • WHB says:

      Did you watch any of the Bulls games??? Scottie Pippen was ALWAYS on the best offensive player! He would guard every position. Stop giving Jordan all the credit for the Bulls success! Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant were the anchors of the Bulls defense. NOT Jordan! Phil wouldn’t put Jordan on the best offensive player because he wanted him to conserve his energy for offense. Like Scottie, Lebron guards position 1-5 on any given night! I am a huge DWade fan, I like him better than Lebron but let’s be honest….Wade can’t guard positions 1-5 like Lebron can.

      • LBJthaking!!!! says:

        Thank you!! I love how everyone makes it sound liek MJ was the whole team!!! Please MJ never had a team liek the Cleveland Cavs for 7 years who fire ther coach and take him back. Hahaha

    • #dwade#flash says:

      @nelson, what are you, 7 years old?

      • LBJthaking!!!! says:

        Haha thank you! Apparently he is lebron could win 10 rings and haters would still say something negative bout him liek he’s not tht good. Hahah

  17. okc2014 says:

    Okay, I admit that King Lebron James is His Greatness. So what if he’s tired? He’s human! Give the guy a break.

  18. the 61 point game was worth it, he was on fire and was feeling it, so should go off. Cant be like that every night

  19. mrny718 says:

    His nose is broken that’s why he’s not driving as much. The mask is uncomfortable but he still doesn’t want to get hit in the face so he’s shooting a lot more. He will be fine

  20. Chris says:

    Don’t forget about the Olympics, Lebron has played more Basketball than even his teammates.

  21. nba_fanatic says:

    sekou is the 2014 mvp.

  22. FINALS says:

    The king will win his 3rd ring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. tv63 says:

    Coach should rest him! As much as I disdain Mike Brown; he would give Lebron a handful of games off. Spoelstra should do the same. Lord knows Wade certainly got a lot of rest this season.

  24. Giddi says:

    Boston Celtics 1984-87 also reached 4 Finals.

  25. md9 says:

    The chosen one MVP king james

  26. Game Time says:

    Miami just played 3 games in five days on the road all against top seeded playoff teams. I think your making a bit much ado about nothing Sekou. James just put back his normal numbers vs Washington. Granted that the Wiz are a team that those numbers come from easy, it still shows he’s not as fatigued as you’re trying to portray.

  27. bballjunkie1 says:

    Next career decsion has to include energy. He knows what it takes to win. To win more he has to be smart cause teams are only getting better all the way around. It worked for 3 championship appearances in a row, moving forward he will need too have more offensively and defensively. He’s not a 20 year old, he is not a pure shooter, he uses so much energy on both sides of the ball. Goodbye small ball all year round. !!

    • oH wOw says:

      And goodbye going for 50+ just to go for 50+!

      • KDfan says:

        Give the guy a break. Playing at a high level and the way LBJ does, does take a cumulative toll on anyones body. He just needs to play a little smarter, like he’s avoiding the lane (thus resulting in the less number of FT’s), because of his nose injury. He has much more experience since he was 20 yrs old and the game has slowed down considerably for him, which gives him a lot of options. He will be in his own element soon.