First Team: ‘Bron still after one award

In this five-part series, I’ll take a look at the best games from last season’s All-NBA first team. The metric I’ve used to figure out the best games is more art than formula, using “production under pressure” as the heuristic for selection. For example, volume scoring in a close game against a stout team on the road gets more weight than volume scoring against the Bucks at home in a blowout. Big games matter. Big clutch games matter more.

Despite being hailed as a stellar defender, LeBron has yet to nab a coveted Defensive Player of the Year award.

Despite being hailed as a stellar defender, LeBron James has yet to nab a coveted Defensive Player of the Year nod.

Many will remember the 2013-14 season for what LeBron James didn’t accomplish.

No third straight MVP. No third straight championship. No Defensive Player of the Year award. No … well, that’s about it. When you’ve turned the NBA upside down over the past 11 years, your list of failures is short.

Last season, ‘Bron scored 27 points per game on 57 percent from the field. What gives for the outlandish accuracy? He has mastered the drive. He can certainly shoot it, but his dominance is due to his pronounced ability to control the area closest to the rim. It’s the same strategy his transcendent high-flying predecessors — Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan — adopted.

The other side of the ball holds his lingering individual motivation. James has made no secret about his desire to capture the top defensive award. After famously shedding serious weight this offseason, he promises to be quicker and more agile and disruptive than ever.

A Defensive Player of the Year award may come to Cleveland, although the franchise would gladly accept a championship first.

Here are his top games last season:

November 15, 2013 — Torching The Old Nemesis

The Line: 39 points on 14-for-18 shooting

The Quote:If I get 37 shots in a game, I’m going to put up 60. Easy.” — James


VIDEO: LeBron James runs wild on the Mavericks for 39 points

Earlier in the week, Rudy Gay set an NBA record with 37 field goal attempts. On this night, LeBron shot about half that number for 10 more points.

Drifting jumpers, quick dribble-drives, long 2s … in short, James had the full repertoire working. The Mavs elected to follow the Spurs’ 2013 Finals strategy of not double teaming, but contesting every perimeter shot he took. In other words, Shawn Marion, Jae Crowder and Monta Ellis were on their own.

A one-legged Dirkian fadeaway by James with a little over two minutes left gave the Heat the cushion needed to put Dallas away.

February 5, 2014 — Adrenaline Rush In L.A.

The Line: 31 points, 12 assists, 1 chasedown

The Quote: “That’s why I should be Defensive Player of the Year. No one has ever done this before.” — James


VIDEO: LeBron James shows off his defensive chops in a win against the L.A. Clippers

From the outset, ‘Bron attacked the paint. If Blake Griffin switched to him on a screen, it was a race to the hole. If it was Matt Barnes in front, ‘Bron would put him on his hip and back him down. If someone wanted to cheat, he dealt to the open man.

James’ night on the defensive end consisted of banging with 7-footer DeAndre Jordan in the paint and chasing around 6-foot Darren Collison on the wing. He was deterring wherever needed. Some view his “ability to guard all positions on the floor” as basketball fable, but for one night, it was made manifest.

February 12, 2014 — Step Back For The Win…Yes!

The Line: 36 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 turnovers

The Quote: “Better offense beats better defense every time.” — James


VIDEO: The Heat oust the Warriors on the road thanks to a late LeBron James jumper

If there was a defining performance for the season, this was it. He has scored more before, but his control of multiple aspects of the game gave the Warriors fits. He compiled another near triple-double and in the end gave the final blow. A 3-pointer to silence a raucous crowd with :00.1 left on the game clock is what every player lives for.

March 3, 2014 — The Best

The Line: 41 minutes, 61 points, 22-for-33 shooting, 8 3s, 1 steamy mask

The Quote: “He was in a great groove, obviously.” — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

The Quote, II: “You take away his 61 points, and we still had a fighting chance there at the end.” — Bobcats center Al Jefferson


VIDEO: LeBron James amasses a career-best 61 points in a romp of the Charlotte Bobcats

Earlier in the season, after shredding Dallas for 39 on only 18 shot attempts, LeBron said he’d easily score 60 if given 37 shots. He only needed 33 shots to put up 61 points against the Bobcats.

He nailed his first 8 3-pointers and “only” made nine free throws. Numerous times he peered into the eyes of a Bobcat before launching and sinking a contested J. His performance was an exhibit of a man at the peak of his powers. Defenders, gravity, fatigue, general odds didn’t faze him. LeBron’s 10th 50-point game was out of this world.

March 18, 2014 — Preview Of Things To Come

The Line: 43 points, 14-for-19 shooting, 3 blocks, 0 turnovers

The Quote: “Right now, it’s too hard for me to think about that. For me to try and take my mind somewhere else is almost impossible, knowing what we have ahead in the playoffs.” — James on possibly returning to the Cavs


VIDEO: In his latest return to Cleveland, LeBron James burns the Cavs for 43 points

Highs are followed by lulls and even a guy made for basketball like LeBron is no exception. In the seven games following his career night against the Bobcats, he posted 20.7 points on 46 percent from the field. With a trip to Cleveland on the menu, the NBA schedule gave him a jolt.

He splashed in 25 first-quarter points, the best in Heat, Quickens Loan Arena and LeBron James history. It was a medley of heat check jumpers, including a number of drifting one-legged fadeaways that he has perfected.

The Cavalier faithful also witnessed a demonstrative defensive effort from LBJ. His three blocks were top notch: a casual swat of Anderson Varejao at the rim, an emphatic toss of Spencer Hawes’ offering at the rim, a mammoth stuff — in collusion with Udonis Haslem — of Dion Waiters at the rim.

Not a bad audition performance.

36 Comments

  1. timpson says:

    I hate all yall #timpson

  2. wtf says:

    WHENEVER I AM HAVING A BAD DAY I CAN ALWAYS COME READ COMMENTS LIKE THESE FROM IDIOTS AND MORONS WHO MAY NOT EVEN HAVE A G.E.D. – BASED ON THEIR ILLITERATE GRAMMAR AND WRITING SKILLS – AND FEEL GOOD ABOUT MYSELF AGAIN.

  3. tim watson says:

    65% of nba fans are dumb.

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  5. kevinmai17 says:

    How about mentioning those last 3 Finals game where he can’t even hold Kawhi to shoot less than 60%?

  6. L.Kane says:

    Reply to OKC, You can’t for Lebron to get to OKC ? Hell Man; You couldn’t Beat us Without Lebron !! Some People have a REALLLLLL Selective Memory.

  7. Consolation Prizes says:

    Ok, that’s cute. Now let’s talk about that TEAM which won the championship and how amazingly THEY played this season.

    • angel says:

      Miami was lucky when they won 2 championship and want to leave you know Wade is Miami for live. Hope that LB don’t get hurt like all super stars and have to leave a full year out then compare him with Kobe Pain does matter players…

  8. LJ says:

    You’re an idiot….what have you done? Have you even played the game even on a grade school level? I think NOT!!!!

  9. yo dawg says:

    lebron “is i took 37 shots in a game i score 60 easy”
    makes 8-8 treys in the only 60 point game of his ever
    yeahhhh EASYYYy

  10. James says:

    All people think of Lebron own decision back to CAVS, somehow it might be true but don’t forget a lot people (agent) work under such superstar athlete….

  11. it’s these kind of performances that we can truly see Greatness and to quote an old term “WITNESS” LeBron James. He’s simple the best. Yes Kevin Durant is good. But he isn’t as efficient as LeBron or as good defensively. Seriously, has anyone ever been as efficient as LeBron? Probably Wilt and maybe Shaq? Those are the kinds of guys LeBron’s scoring efficiency gets compared to b/c he just takes great shots, he’s a smart basketball player. People always try to argue with me saying Kobe is better, but seriously? Have you seen this man? Kobe is good, one of the best, but he can’t do all the things LeBron can at the level LeBron can. Kobe’s never really been an efficient scorer, he’s a one man show. LeBron puts up amazing numbers with good teammates as well. And they try to say Kobe as more hardware, well who got further when they were alone? LeBron took his team to the finals while Kobe couldn’t make it out of the first round. LeBron is just dominant, I’m stoked that I’m apart of this basketball generation to be able to watch his entire career.

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  13. angel says:

    Lebron is a monster playing the game but he is cry baby when he loses. He left Miami not because of being faith full to Cleavland it was because he did not accomplish all the rings he said he would win in Miami and championships for the fans.He went back to Cleavland because of the money and all the benefits he will get out of this deal and intelegent person would have seen that coming . Wise man….. Cleavland has a team to become champs let see if they could handle the preasure. Good luck Cavs,,,,,,,,,

    • johnlpoetry says:

      You’re full of it man! Lebron has always been about winning. He was with the Cavs for 7 years and decided that he wanted to win because management didn’t make the necessary moves to get over the hump. Right or wrong he’s never been a crybaby or whiner like you so eloquently stated.

      • angel says:

        This game is all about money and being fait full to your team like I said he left to Miami for the money he lost and did his move quick back to Cleavland . because he did not know what was going to decide the big 2.Cant say that Cleavland is bad they are full of stars let see if they could come true this year.Hope he don’t cry if they lose good luck Cavs…..

  14. harriethehawk says:

    King Lebron James. he is amazing and anyone who disagrees is drinking haterade.

  15. lbj says:

    i am an idiot

  16. celentano says:

    amazing ringchaser,not!

  17. lbj says:

    Lebron won’t win rings in Miami. He needs to come play with our “king” lebron in Cleveland. We will trade James jones and Norris cole via amnesty from Miami.

    Just kidding.

  18. Tremill says:

    He simply dominates the modern game and makes it so every team has to have a player on their team that is there to specifically guard lebron.

  19. GodSaveTheKing says:

    Amazing player… simply the best

  20. Rangers says:

    He’s decking defensively. No chance he gets DPOY lmao

  21. NBA says:

    lebron will never be as good as kobe bryant, yes he will never be as good as him cause lebron is way better than koby. Next to jordan the only player i see in second place is lbj23

  22. sally says:

    He is “THE MAN” !!!

  23. OKC says:

    Omg I can’t wait for Cleveland to come to town!

  24. Justin says:

    None of the field goals from the 61 point game was a dunk.

  25. bodjee says:

    Defender of the decade without a single defender of the year trophy to show!

  26. I can definitely see Lebron getting DPOY. Prepare to see the 2.0 to Jordan’s DPOY year. James can let K&K (Kyrie and Kevin) handle the offensive load.

    I wonder how much he’ll learn from Shawn Marion, one of the greatest wing defenders of all time. Not just defensively but offensively being able to score so much without ever having a play ran for him.

  27. Nat says:

    That huge Golden State buzzer beater game didn’t make it?

  28. Katy Upton says:

    Eeeeww! LeBron’s left hand is in Spencer’s armpit!

  29. Katy Upton says:

    Eeeeww! LeBron’s left hands in Spencer’s armpit!

  30. Think about it says:

    Didn’t Blake Griffin score 44 points that game? They should’ve put Lebron on him.

  31. theholyspectator says:

    lbj is a really great player.