LeBron James has stood atop the world of basketball as one of the best players in the NBA for a very long time now. Despite being in Year 19, LeBron has shouldered the load for the Los Angeles Lakers this year and tried to will them to victory every game.
LeBron tried the same against the Houston Rockets in OT last night but would pass up a game-winning layup for a contested Carmelo Anthony jumper. Melo missed and the game went to 2OT where the Rockets comfortably put the Lakers away.
NBA analyst and former NCAA Champion Jay Williams had a very strong opinion on LeBron passing up that shot, claiming he cannot advocate for the 37-year-old Lakers superstar as the GOAT over Michael Jordan anymore.
"I fight every single day because I think LeBron James is the greatest player the game has ever seen. That's a polarizing conversation between him and Michael Jordan. But last night, for LeBron James to have a triple and a chance to bully your man to the rim and finish the game in regulation, but you decide to pass the ball to Carmelo Anthony? I want to quit that argument. I throw my hands up. That's what people are going to hold against you, LeBron. Just punish the guy at the rim, that's who I think you are. But it's not who you actually are and it kills the argument about him being a GOAT."
Ouch. Considering the sensitivity of the GOAT debate, a statement like this has to sting LeBron, who is making his case stronger by continuing MVP-level play this late into his career. However, with a team that was designed to be a super team and has underachieved massively, the 2021-22 season may always be held against James in the GOAT debate.
LeBron has passed up game-winners before, but for an objectively better shot. The fatigue of carrying the Lakers to the last minute of OT caught up with James and the game slipped away as a result. A tough loss, but it may be hyperbole to suggest this one pass is what settles who the GOAT of basketball is.