NBA / May 6, 2010 / 4:30 pm

Pass The Mic: Is LeBron James Too Unselfish?

Words. Chantay Jordan

After LeBron sent the Bulls fishing last week, he finds himself in the middle of many storylines. Aside from bricking a left-handed free throw in a critical part of Game 5, Elbow-Gate and his lethargic play in Game 2 against the Celtics, James seems to be facing another familiar criticism: “He’s too unselfish.”

But why? LeBron only averaged a Jordan-esqe 31.8 points and 8.2 assists per game in the first round, which was better than the 23.5 points for Kobe and the 30.7 points for ‘Melo. What more could you ask for?

Following Cleveland’s loss to Chicago in Game 3, LeBron received flack for not taking over in the fourth quarter. Forget the fact that the Cavs erased an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, they still fell short of the victory. But isn’t the fourth quarter where superstars set themselves apart from the rest; where true champions rise to the occasion. If this is indeed the case, then LeBron haters may have a point. Or do they?

In case you didn’t know, LeBron led the league in fourth quarter scoring and total efficiency – in both the regular season and playoffs. Not to mention, during the 2007-08 season, he had the highest fourth quarter scoring average (9.1) of the previous 10 years.

Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t. The numbers are indeed there, but one thing that we haven’t seen to date is LeBron consistently putting the nail in the coffin in dramatic fashion. Without a doubt, we have seen many buzzer beaters by Kobe and ‘Melo. In fact, LeBron got a taste up close and personal to ‘Melo’s killer instinct when he sunk the game-winner right in his mug in a matchup with the Nuggets this past February.

Let’s be real though. LeBron’s had his moments getting it done down the stretch. There was Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals when he hit the game-winner at the buzzer, and Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals when he tortured Detroit for 25 straight points. While those two games stand out, more often than not LeBron is just LeBron. You know, the pass-first type of guy. In Game 6 of their 2006 first round matchup against the Wizards, he opted to pass the hero responsibilities to Damon Jones. Crazy thing is, he made it.

But let’s get back to 2010. When it comes to “where amazing happens,” passing it off to your teammates just isn’t cutting it for fans, writers or critics. There’s a reason the playoffs are on TNT, we want drama. We want the King to be the King, if not for just the fear of Skip Bayless calling him the Prince.

At the end of the day we’ve come to know this: LeBron James is a superstar, and one that will live or die trusting his teammates. Whether that means he’s too unselfish is up to you. When you average 7.0 assists per game for your career though, passing the rock is not something that’s going to go away – even in the fourth quarter. So for those of you that don’t like it, you better get used to hating it. But remember this: How unselfish can a player really be when they average almost 30 points a game? Just a thought.

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  • control

    He SHOULD average at least 40 a game, he could do it. Anyone saying that he’s too selfish doesn’t realize that it’s his passing and court vision that makes him so special of a player. Fuck his scoring abilities, this guy is on the same level as Steve Nash and Jason Kidd for setting people up with easy baskets. Once he gets a few decent teammates (anyone who says Valgina and “Jesus dog” Williams are good teammates can go fuck themselves) he might average a solid 10-11 apg.

    If you need proof of LeBron’s passing, go look up highlights for Hickson, they are ALL setup by LeBron’s amazing court vision.

    LeBron does really get frustrating when the game is down to 4 minutes left, and instead of just putting his head down and getting a basket (or bailout) that he could get 100% of the time, he will pass it off to Valgina so he can throw up an airball or something. He’s gotta play the percentages, setting up his teammates is like 70%, his jumpshot is like 60%, his putting the head down and bulling into the lane, probably 90%.

  • Aaron

    After one game, really?? Why are critics so quick to revert back to the “He isn’t clutch” comments after ONE game? Could he have been more selfish and taken more shots? Sure, but at what cost? Why not give the Celtics and their defense some credit. To me, LeBron looked confused on how to attack Boston’s defensive scheme, which was designed to keep him out of the paint. This all comes down to the Celtics making adjustments and LeBron and the Cavs not reacting well. Let’s wait to see what happens the rest of the playoffs before critics go pulling the “he’s too unselfish and unclutch” card!

  • Rizwan

    Love the guy, but everything Ric Bucher said on the BS report was 100% accurate.

  • Mr. A

    What the fuck control?? who is “Valgina” supposed to be? I’ve literally racked my brain to figure it out and I simply cannot. and where on earth did you get “jesus dog” for Mo’s nickname? what planet do you live on?

  • Rizwan

    @ Mr A

    Anderson Varejao

  • Rizwan

    @ Control

    I used to hate Varejao as well and still do a little bit but you cant deny his presence on that team only helps it. His hustle is invaluable.

    Just look at Jared Dudley last night

  • control

    Mr. A

    Welcome to Dime, first time long time eh? Rizwan is correct, Valgina = Varejao, obviously. The guy looks like one of those ginger unshaven fro pussies from the 60s, and plays like a complete bitch.

    Mo gets the nick name “Jesus Dog” because he is the owner of one of the stupidest tattoos in the world. You seen that one that is on his left shoulder? It’s a picture of a Marmaduke looking mutt that has a halo, and is surrounded by stupid highlights, arrows and borders like one of those church portraits of Jesus. I don’t give a fuck if that dog saved his stupid life by pulling him out of a burning house or something, there’s no reason to throw a tattoo of a dog on himself with it decorated like that. What’s on his chest? A picture of the Last Supper with that dog representing Jesus? That is how he has his nick name.

  • Rizwan

    @ Control

    Great explanation, I accept that nickname!!!

  • control


    Yeah, Valgina hustles like he is on a street corner…but I’d rather have someone who hustles AND has some basic basketball skills. There is still nobody on here that can tell me what skill he has that isn’t related to his untiring hustle…he can’t shoot, he can’t do layups, he can’t post up, he can’t back down guys who are 6’6 or bigger, he can’t dribble, his passing sucks, his vision is passable but useless because his passing sucks, his basketball IQ isn’t great, and his boxing out is faulty most of the time (his rebounds are a mostly a product of the defense completely ignoring him and his hustle).

    He can dunk only because he’s 6’10, he’s not really quick, he’s not really fast, he is under strength for his position, so physical he isn’t anything even remotely special.

    The only thing he has, which even a hater like me can’t deny, is A LOT of hustle. It ain’t 50 million dollars worth of hustle though.

  • karizmatic

    @ Rizwan

    I second you on the Ric Bucher comments, LBJ hasn’t quite yet stepped up into that real killer mode, that so many of the greats have, and people keep trying to put their fingers on it, that’s why questions come up like whether he’s too unselfish.

    @ Control

    I still don’t like VareHO but his hustle does change games, it’s really just the fact that he’s been hanging around LBJ so long sometimes he thinks he can do LBJ esque things and finds out that he can’t. At least once a game he’ll try to do something like break a double team and do a crossover through traffic that will have you shaking you head like “Why did he think he could do that?” But he is an important part of the team. Him and Joakim Noah don’t get enough respect for what they bring.

  • Mr. A

    @ Control,

    Fair enough on the mo nickname and belittling his tattoos. HOWEVER, I’ll say this: Mo certainly isn’t the only player in the league with stupid tattoos. Kenyon Martin has a fucking lip on his neck, for chrissake! hahah all i’m saying is your words reek of hate. yeah, mo’s tattoos are dumb, but there are dumber in the league.

  • Rizwan

    @ Control

    Forgot he had that contract! Definitely not worth it, but for that team and to keep LeBron, they had no choice I guess.

  • control


    I actually used to lump Noah into the same category as Valgina, but Noah has pretty much accepted his limitations and played off his strengths. It’s still PAINFUL to watch Noah get the ball at the free throw line, no one covering him, and he stands around confused for 5 seconds before he figures out what to do with it (which is turn it over when he puts it on the ground, brick it when he tries his UGLY shot, or the right move: pass it back to Rose and tell him not to pass it back).

    Valgina IS 100% hustle, that really to me doesn’t seem like a basketball skill. I think the fact he is such a giant liability on offense (Cavs essentially playing 4on5) costs the team more than his hustle changes games. For every key hustle rebound he’s got with 4 seconds left on the clock, there is a time when he’s fucked up.

  • control

    Mr A

    Of course my words reek of hate, I wouldn’t be a good hater if they didn’t, now would I? I was only belittling ONE of his tattoos, and assigning a nick name based on such a prominent one isn’t really that far fetched.

    I didn’t say he was the only one who had stupid tattoos, with the amount of tattoos in the league (there has to be an average of 8 per player, there are more guys who have full body tats like Birdman, than there are guys who don’t have any at all). I’m sure I’ll assign valid nicknames to other fools who have really prominent dumb ass tattoos at some later date.

    KMart’s tattoo is of lips of a WOMAN (probably exceptionally good looking…that one rapper chick he stole from lil’ Wayne or some bs if I remember correctly) so I can cut him some slack. Women make men do stupid shit, that’s just a fact. Beautiful women make men do the stupidest shit around, ain’t a damn guy who is hetro who hasn’t been in that boat before.

    A Jesus Dog has to be in the top 10 of stupidest tattoos in the NBA. Unless the guy has a closet bestiality fetish, there ain’t no reason to have a tat like that.

  • Rizwan

    @ karizmatic

    The real question, does he have that edge?

    Ric Bucher made an excellent point about how he is content making his teammates happy. I think because it comes so easy to him, he takes a little of it for granted. AMAZING AMAZING player but if he doesnt win, what does he become? I know he is 25 and has a long time left but its not like he is in an age where he only has 1 competitor, like for example Larry and Magic (the headlines went to them most so forgive me if I am leaving players out). He has several.

    Bucher made another point, replying to Bill Simmons about how he needs to lose before he gets that edge. I would have thought that loss to Orlando would covered that to some degree, but I dont know if it has.

    I’m kinda perplexed discussing this to be honest, because I would expect him to win this season but now I am not too sure. Not because of one game, but his demeanour struck me with a ‘if I lose this year, I’ll make it up next year’ vibe. That dealie with Mo Williams smiling and saying ‘we’re not worried about losing’ was the epitome of what LeBron also brings to the table.

    Ric Bucher made another good point in regards to Dwight Howard not holding himself accountable for his foul trouble in one of his columns. Thats one of the reason why I think Orlando wont win until Dwight gets his Kobe, because he isnt mature enough to lead that team. His personality, great that it is for TV (I dont particularly like it), wont win.

    I think until LeBron holds himself accountable, not that he lost the game, but the best player does that in any sport, he will continue to contend but fall short.

  • http://dime eyes

    Jason Kidd & Steve Nash likeness in setting up teamatea. He could pass but that is a bit of a stretch. His game & skill level doesn’t allow him to get to his sweet spots. He doesn’t have a go to move. The Cannonball doesn’t count. YOu can’t rely on a ref all the time. What if they don’t make the call. He still has trouble at the line. He is a streak shooter. He doesn’t shoot the three or midrange that good. He has no Post game. Aside from that he’s still the KING in the media’s eye & some newcomers.

    The same way people kill Dwight Howard for being a physical freak. They are very similar in attributes & limited skill. Lebron is a great passer. He doesn’t really handle the ball that well. He does for his size but he doesn’t have a counter move or great footwork. Hence the traveling at times. He usually takes two steps w/o dribbling every rebound. That may be due to his video game body. It’s why D12 has trouble shooting the ball at all. Look at him. He & Lebron jump way to high. Why do you need to jump that High. Look at how fast he is. He is a Cheat Code that could use some work.

    It’s kind of hard to work on your game when you’re considered the best player ever. He might feel as if his game is complete. He’s very far from being able to run off back to back rings or one ALONE. This league is full of ATHLETES that show potential & players that have powerful AGENTS. Actuall Basketball skills mean nothing. Lebron James isn’t as skilled as Scottie Pippen was. He may be similar to Scottie rather than Jordan or Kobe. Like Kobe or not his skill level is ridiclously high. He may be more skilled than Mike but not have the charisma or want to be as good a teamate.

    Grant Hill had immense skills. Skills are what make you good. Not the media,refs,former players cosigning you. A great AAU team or college coach. Lebron has been in the L almost 7 years. What you see is what you get. Too bad the L has been so ga ga after him. They’ve missed out on what so many other great players do. It really is his L.

    Lebron James is the man in Dos Equis commercials. “The Most interesting Man in the World”

  • wifey


  • Taj

    I felt he could’ve imposed his will on game in the 3rd Q while they were down big! I also fell that his trust in his teamates enabled them to come back, but he needed to do just a tad more to get the W..

    I think we’re in for a treat tonight…

  • control


    I agree with you about a lot of your points, but I think LeBron is actually getting his midrange/three ball fixed. If you see that one jump shot he did at half court, at the buzzer (against Chicago, end of the third) you can see that he had almost perfect form there. His form is slightly off when he is shooting off of a lateral movement, but when he’s shooting off a forward/back movement, it’s actually pretty solid. He’s one of the only shooters in the league who don’t need to compensate his form for distance past 15 ft…the guy’s arms are so strong that he can use the same form at 30ft as he does at 15ft.

    He still has that weird hitch in his free throws though, hope he irons that out sometime this summer.

    He also does have very good skills, excellent court vision and timing. I just think his athleticism overshadows a lot of it…honestly until it stops working for him, why would he use it? I’m not saying he’s as technically sound as Kobe or anything, but it’s def above average.

  • Pat

    LBJ is the most talented and physically gifted ball player in the league right now.

    With that said, he doesn’t yet comprehend that it often requires mega-star skills (which he posses) to execute in important situations in the playoffs.

    During crunch time, he has to know what the highest percentage play is (drive, shoot, pass, etc) and do it instead of making his team mates happy.

    I’m sure whatever type of neglect his teammates may feel between now and the end of the playoffs will go away when they win it all.

  • K Dizzle

    Maybe his elbow is hurt………
    (do whatever you want with that one)

  • LakeShow84

    Honestly if it aint there..

    It probably will never be there..

    I consider myself someone who has a killer instinct out there on ANY court.. ill play a game where i dont force up any wild shots but as soon as i get a chance for the game winner ill shoot a 15 foot fader with the .. Its something thats in you to take everything and end it with YOUR exclamation point.. and you want that and you RELISH that.. Thats why i defend certain players because i can SOMEWHAT feel the thinking of said players..

    Scratch thinking.. The FEELING of said players..

    When you got a killer instinct YOU WANT that shot because it is YOUR moment to ICE that shit and you want to be the man who hits that last nail in the coffin..

    There is damn near nothing in you that says “well if he comes off of him he’ll be wide open for a MUCH BETTER SHOT and we can get the win”

    What your MIND/SUBCONSCIOUS/BODY is telling you is “nobody is going to stop this shit and im going to send these mofo’s home in a casket”

    And even with the adrenaline rush of what you’re doing everything is calm in a sense.. your not scared, your smiling cuz you WANT IT.. and you WANT IT BAD..

    Watching Bron i can see the panic in his face.. sorry not neccessarily panic but he THINKS about whats about to happen.. hes thinking about missing..

    Like i pointed out when he hit his game winner in Cleveland last year,

    He looked surprised to hit it..

    Watch Dwade, Kobe, and all the other clutch performers.. When they hit that shit its with that attitude of “go home and sleep on that m#$#@$$%ers”

    Thats something thats just in you IMO..

  • LakeShow84

    And you can also tell when he misses clutch freebies..

    Something that is usually brushed under the rug by everyone..

    If you clutch in any way FT’s are the easiest game winners/icers to take, yet in a big game ive seen dude miss TOO MANY..

    Watch last years Orlando series.. The man missed a lot of crunchtime FT’s which is crazy considering how talented dude is..

    Which shows being clutch and having all the physical talent in the world are on opposite sides of the spectrum..

  • Promoman

    LeBron isn’t too unselfish. He’s playing the right way offensively. 90-95% of all players talk about passing the ball, when the reality is:

    A) They won’t pass if they can help it. (Example: Iverson)

    B) They’ll only pass if it’s a guaranteed assist or highlight reel play (Examples: Iverson, Marbury, T.J. Ford)

    C) They’ll pass but they’ve got a buddyball-only mentality (Example: Steve Francis & Cuttino Mobley)

    LeBron is like Steve Nash & Jason Kidd in the sense that he’s consistent about not only passing the ball but passing the ball to everybody.

  • Jay

    I think there’s a difference between being too unselfish and trying to let the game come to you. To me, LeBron is more of the latter. However, a legitimate criticism can be that he doesn’t dictate the flow of the game enough. Players as spectacular as LeBron generally don’t need to let the game come to them, because they can take the game wherever they want it to go. LeBron needs to be impose his will on the game more often and for longer stretches. It almost seems like he personally has an on and off switch, when it should be ON all game long.

  • K Dizzle

    lol @
    “Watch Dwade, Kobe, and all the other clutch performers.. When they hit that shit its with that attitude of “go home and sleep on that m#$#@$$%ers”

    lol that line is gospel
    Watch all of Kobe’s gamewinners except the banker on Wade. Dude is just ice. Clock. Jumper, Swish. 2 hands up. Not even a smile. Just realization of expectations

  • NY_knicks

    This King hype and greatest player in the league stuff is way to premature. Let the man earn it by winning titles and consistently taking over games. Yes I know the league needs a marketable star to fill the Jordan void who is not or has not been in trouble. Lebron is the safest bet (so far) as a media darling. He is apolitical, has enough charisma, and has a solid all around game. However it puts way to much pressure on him and sets up false expectations. He has already done the impossible-making Cleveland basketball relevant. Not a fan but dude can play the game. He should watch old Magic games to learn when to dish and destroy by taking over.

  • abcdefg

    Another LBJ article.
    Keep it rocking dime.

  • sh!tfaced

    Don’t know if LeBron is too unselfish, but he definitely needs to be more selfish.

    Bron’s also got that occasional “go home and sleep on that m#$#@$$%ers” attitude:

    Like Game 3 against the Bulls, and their last game in Denver:
    – seemingly already won games, seconds left, nothing-to-lose game situations where LeBron just keeps hoisting those 3pt bombs but they go in and suddenly an everything-but-lost one again becomes a close, winnable game for the Cavs just like that?

    He needs to bring out a lot more of that desperate, unconscious, I-don’t-give-a-shit, killer instinct mode or whatever that comes out when he’s got his back against the wall.


    can people stop with the Nash/Kidd comparisons, those guys turn their team mates into all stars.
    LeBron is a great passer but his game turns his team mates into spectators who are always a little confused when they get the ball, not knowing if they’re supposed to shoot or give it back to Bron.
    Its not his fault, he cant be to blame for being too good. But the team needs a proper PG to run the offense and a proper coach to actually call plays. Mike Browns patented “give the ball to Bron an get the fuck outta the way” play just ain’t gonna win manny rings.

  • chris

    what do you mean ‘crazy thing is he made it’ damon jones isnt a great nba player but he IS a great shooter

  • Dapointgod

    It’s crazy how every superstar before Lebron James gets criticize for not passing the ball and Lebron gets Criticized for Passing the ball too much when he averages damn near 30 points a game,I Come to the realization that Lebron just critcize for doing the right thing F*ck da Haters when its all said and done Lebron will be number 1

  • eazy yeezy

    all the critics are nuts. go to your teams gm and ask them who is untouchable for a lebron james trade. the bottom line is, there isnt a single player in this league who wouldnt be traded if it means bringing in lebron. yes magic/thunder/bulls/LAKERS/nuggets fans. every single one of your teams would ship their best player out in a heartbeat if it meant bringing lebron in. i’m a bulls fan and even i admit, he is the best player in the league and its not even close. 31,8 and 7 a game?! are you kidding me??