Jordan vs. LeBron: The Intersection of American Culture & NBA Clutch Performance


The unparalleled love for NBA superstars that perform in the clutch is unlike anything else in sports. Kobe Bryant’s one-on-one style in the closing moments of games was heir to Michael Jordan’s legendary finishing blows. Their emphatic fist pumps and rousing chest pounds are etched into our collective sports consciousness. We never forget grand finishes capped by an athlete's unwillingness to lose. Fans eat it up—and understandably so. Our romanticization of such impressive individual achievements is deeply ingrained into American culture. There is something so perfectly American in this easily digestible action of a single player "winning a game." We love things that are impressive and simple. I believe this provides insight into our reverence of NBA players that singlehandedly perform well in the clutch. That is, until LeBron James came along.

LeBron did not fit the mold. Here is a 6’8” 250-pound beast who can do virtually anything he wants on a basketball court. Unlike anyone else, he scores and plays defense while orchestrating and executing like a coach. His physical stature and play mirror everything that we traditionally admire. And yet, many find his game unsatisfying. He looks and feels like he should be a Jordan- or Kobe-type and yet he self-identifies and plays more like Magic Johnson. He “passes too much.” Somehow the future Hall-of-Famer, who has mastered the game on a level never seen before, is criticized for how he plays the game. The tension is palpable in how we idealize success through traditional masculinity and how many players (and coaches) in the newer generations approach a game's final moments. The undying love for the Jordan/Kobe-style singular determination is battling it out against a team-first LeBron-style strategy. Old school vs. new school.


Here's how I articulated my feelings in another one of those Kobe/Jordan/LeBron conversations recently with a couple friends: We need to identify and answer a few simple questions regarding the desired outcome of end-game situations. 1) What’s the goal at the end of the game? (Hit shots.) 2) What’s the best way to do that? (Get a high percentage shot.) 3 How do you get a high percentage shot? (Create one for yourself or someone else.)

A great closer wins games. The false equivalence of winning games as an individual to winning games as a team is mistaken. “Putting the ball in the hoop” is the goal—it doesn’t matter who does it. In fact, the goal of a leader in any field should be to achieve a desired outcome no matter who receives credit. A leader recognizes the strengths (and weaknesses) of all team members and puts the team in the best position to succeed. The pass that leads to the shot doesn’t lead to the same glory, chest pounding, or snarling face of victory that does a one-on-one buzzer beater. Kids don’t grow up on the driveways of America pretending to pass to teammates in the best position to hit a shot or layup. We chant “3…2…1…” and launch a fade-away shot as time expires to the invisible crowd going wild. It’s the American Dream in a moment.

The irony, which I am more than happy to acknowledge, is the imperfection in equating last second shots to team success. There are 48 minutes in a regulation basketball game, so for me to examine the final 24 seconds as the only important ones would be to oversimplify the complexity of the path to success. Nonetheless, I think there is something to be said for LeBron’s success in the recent decade and a half where specialization and NBA talent has made it harder for repeat champions to occur. In the past few years, the Golden State Warriors are another excellent example of optimizing the new-school approach to success (read: wins and championships). Despite relying strictly on one of two of the best shooters of all time, Curry and Klay, or two of the best scorers, Durant and Curry, the Steve Kerr offense always looks for the best shot. The team with the best individual talent somehow also leads the league in assists. Even in the Mark Jackson era, one of the shots that has stuck with me was a Jarrett Jack to Draymond Green layup to win the game vs. the LeBron Miami Heat. That shot featured Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on the floor.



Yes, Kyrie’s shot in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals will immortalize him in a moment. Yes, Michael and Kobe fans praise their end-game tenacity. But more recently, the evolution of basketball has trended toward a LeBron/Warriors-style approach to win. The slow turn towards using five players to win a game instead of one is gaining acceptance. Superstars know that they can win one-on-one battles, but when it becomes one-on-three or more… It’s time to acknowledge the goal is to win as a team not always as an individual. Appreciating grit and determination should be praised and yet not synonymous with the strategic pursuit of success.


Useful Food for NBA Players That You Should Know


Basketball is may seem more of a fun game but truth be told; this is a strenuous sport full of jumping and frequent sprinting. Additionally, the sessions have short breaks and the body needs to have enough stamina, power, and energy to avoid breakdown. According to one player, while exercises and the use of enhancement gear like the one sold at steroids-evolution.com is necessary, diet is the key to performance. NBA players use a highly regulated diet by their nutrition experts and the coaches.

Basic diet rules for NBA players

Whether the nutritionist is there or not, the players are guided by some rules which they never abandon as long as they are active members of a basketball club. One of the guidelines is that their diet must have low fat but have a high carb to provide the high amount of energy. It is highly recommended that they eat whole grains carbs which also provide fiber to the body. The poultry should be skinless while the red meat should be lean. Health fats from nuts and avocado are also recommended.

The breakfast

It is the fuel NBA stars needs for the whole day training or playing. There is a business of high-carb breakfast for the right energy. Bread like a bagel, vegetable-rich scrambled eggs and high-fiber cereals are to the list for the players. When it comes to dairies, low-fat milk is the best in this case. Fruits like berries, apples, and bananas also make a good breakfast accompaniment.

The snacks

NBA players are allowed to eat snacks at mid-morning. The essence is to keep the energy level up for the activities ahead. Instead of protein bars which most players in other categories use, the NBA players use whole foods as snacks. Popular snacks include nut buttes, yogurt, nuts, cheese and salami just to mention but a few. Apart from being a mid-morning snack, the players can have it whenever they are hungry.

Lunch

The paleo-like diet is the main emphasis for lunch where players avoid any processed carbs. Therefore, it is crucial for them to have chicken and other poultry without the skin, lean meat without fat, vegetables, pasta and brown rice. Leafy and other vegetable salads also top the list of the lunch foods. Fruits are the recommended as the best dessert rather than the cakes and simple carbs sweets.

Dinner

Dinner is the meal reserved for recovery of muscles and replenishing of the energy stores after a long day playing or exercising. Therefore, the diet is more focused on proteins and carbs. A great example is a grilled poultry meat or lean beef, potatoes or rice and salads. Most nutritionists will also recommend low-fat milk before you sleep.

Drinking

Whether it is breakfast, dinner or any other time, drinking water and fruit juices are very important. The body of an NBA player must remain hydrated at all times. The nutritionist may also recommend various energy drinks which boost energy fast especially during a match break or exercises. Water is the primary recommended drink one should keep closer to themselves.

NBA Finals 2017: Warriors vs. Cavs, Irresistible Force Vs. Immovable Presence

For the first time in basketball history, the same two teams will meet in the NBA Finals for three consecutive years. This trend may not cease anytime soon – both squads appear to have the personnel needed to face each other in the championships for another couple of years.
Over the past three seasons, the Warriors have morphed into an irresistible force, growing deadlier with Kevin Durant in the fold. Golden State became the first team to win 65-plus games three years in a row, outperforming peak regular season Jordan, and nearly winning their second straight ring last year.

Their only rival dominates the Eastern Conference. LeBron James has been an immovable presence, representing the Eastern Conference in the finals for his seventh straight year, earning three rings in the process. Despite his fourteen years in the association, LeBron has been playing his finest ball of his career.




With a combined playoff record of 24-1 during the first three rounds of the playoffs, even the best NBA odds gurus will have a difficult time anticipating the lines, spreads and over/unders for the 2017 NBA Finals. When an immovable presence like LeBron meets the irresistible force of the Warriors, the only certainty is that one of these teams will win another ring.

Elder LeBron Shouldn't Be This Good

After the ridiculous number of hard minutes LeBron has logged over the years, King James has somehow managed to play his best basketball over the past few years with Cleveland, peaking with his current playoff performance.

The lack of respect that he's displayed against the Eastern Conference isn't personal, it's business. He knows that nobody can guard him and doesn't waste time pretending otherwise. Feigning beer consumption on court while clowning bigs like Serge Ibaka and Kelly Olynyk happens to be part of the strategy.

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Cleveland has spent the past couple of years surrounding James with experienced shooters to maximize the threat of LeBron’s incredible passing, most recently adding Kyle Korver and Deron Williams to the bench. Tristan Thompson is the only player who doesn't have the ability to hit shots from deep – his role’s the rim. Over three years, LeBron and Kyrie have grown their chemistry on the pick and roll to psychic levels.

This often forces defenders to scramble when the King and Uncle Drew gain a half step of separation, with at least two shooters on the perimeter and a crashing Thompson ready to dunk anything tossed at the rim. Cleveland's offense can be next to impossible to stop when James and Kyrie orchestrate like a pair of maestros. During the playoffs, the Cavs start playing defense too, which makes them unbeatable in the east.

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Curry and Durant: Deadliest Shooting Force In History

Steph Curry has averaged 28.6 points during the 2017 playoffs at a 50-40-90 clip - the best in his career. Kevin Durant has dropped 25.2 PPG during the Warriors perfect run to the finals, shooting 55.6 percent from the field and 41.7% from deep. KD’s free throw rate of 87.1% leaves this duo only a few percentage points of being the only 50-40-90 combo in NBA playoff history.
The fact that they combine for 53.8 PPG so efficiently glosses over the rest of the lineup. Draymond Green has made himself into a triple-double threat while maintaining cred as an annual defensive player of the year candidate. Klay Thompson might freak out and drop a 20-point quarter at any moment, and the bench has sneaky depth, including Andre Igoudala as one of the best sixth men in the league.

A Historic Rivalry

Durant joining the Warriors cemented Golden State as the superpower of the era, while King James has already carved himself into basketball’s Mount Rushmore. The Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors could soon be crowned the best rivalry the NBA has ever witnessed. Enjoy it while it lasts.

(Golden State in six)