clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

LeBron's Greatest Performances: The King's best game-winner ever

New, comments

We can't discuss LeBron's greatest performances without what might be the greatest single shot of his career.

Pool/Getty Images

Last week, you voted for the best LeBron James performances of all time. Here is the third best LeBron moment ever as decided by you, the FtS community.

LeBron James has had a ton of memorable game-winners. He had two in the 2006 East First Round series against the Washington Wizards. The 2013 Eastern Conference Finals dunk against the Indiana Pacers while a member of the Miami Heat. This past spring, he added another, hitting that smooth turnaround in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Bulls. None of those shots are on this list, though.

That's because the buzzer-beater in Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals stands in a category by itself. Consider that it was LeBron's first playoff buzzer-beater. Consider the situation, with the Cleveland Cavaliers down one needing to win to even the series heading to Orlando. Consider the other options on the floor - I mean, CRUNCH TIME SASHA PAVLOVIC was a thing. And consider the coverage from the Orlando Magic - Hedo Turkoglu basically trying to salsa-dance with him with Rashard Lewis rotating over to try to block it. This shot was just that much more special. It's not just LeBron's best game-winner, it's up there on the most memorable playoff game-winners of all time.

And this wasn't just a game that is memorable for just that shot, either. It wasn't one of the more stat-stuffed box scores we'd see from LeBron in that series, compared to his Game 1 performance or his 37 point, 14 rebound, 12 assist triple-double in a Game 5 win. However, LeBron was still very much the driving force for the Cavs offensively, scoring 35 points on 12-23 shooting with four rebounds and five assists.

LeBron spent four quarters getting to the basket at will, either from transition or the half court. He got out in transition well early, and finished several quality dunks to help the Cavs jump out to a 49-33 lead. He also was responsible for seven of Pavlovic's nine points via assist, and he spent the first half playing pretty strong help defense, allowing Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas to focus on containing Dwight Howard, who would finish with just 10 points on the night.

Most impressive, though, was the complete disregard LeBron showed for the defense of whoever was guarding him one-on-one on the perimeter. The Cavs set up several isolations with LeBron guarded by Turkoglu, and LeBron just continually drove past Turkoglu into the teeth of the Magic's defense. LeBron was helped by the presence of Ilguaskas, whose threat from mid-range often keptHoward from providing a full challenge to LeBron's shots in the paint.

These two factors helped LeBron score 35 points on 23 shots, pick up 12 free throw attempt  and carry the Cavs offense despite a bad shooting performance from Mo Williams (7-21 shooting, 1-6 from 3) and Ilgauskas (12 points on 13 shots). LeBron and Pavlovic were really the only players in Game 2 who had strong offensive performances, making the 35 points for LeBron that much more impressive. LeBron's always been able to get to the rim basically at will, but the amount he did it in this game, and the effectiveness that had despite struggle elsewhere from the Cavs offense, is part of what makes this performance memorable.

That, and this shot, of course.