This argument on sports radio highlights the difference between those who don't think LeBron James has done enough with his talent versus those who recognize that James can't do everything himself.
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NBA Hall-of-Famer and Warriors legend Rick Barry appeared on a radio show with Rob Parker—whom we last saw getting fired from ESPN for calling RGIII a "cornball brother"—and things got very heated very quickly. Barry voiced his frustration about the much-discussed LeBron pass to a wide-open Kyle Korver at the end of a heartbreaking loss to Golden State in Game 3. Korver missed, and then Durant immediately hit a dagger that sealed Cleveland's fate.
The central talking point is a common one among the Skip Baylesses of the sports world and goes something like this: LeBron passed up a shot he could have made for a shot someone else missed. He doesn't have the guts or mental fortitude of Michael Jordan, he's not a closer or whatever. It is an argument based on narratives, suppositions, and what ifs. Consider Parker in the Bayless crowd.
The counterargument is that LeBron is not only one of the best players we've ever seen, but he's also one of the smartest, and made the right basketball play there. It is an argument based on watching someone play basketball within a team framework and understanding how that works. Consider Barry in this camp.
These two arguments collide beginning around the :30 mark below.
Once Barry mentioned he was tired of hearing people criticize LeBron for making the play, Parker went on and on about how LeBron should have taken the shot because he was playing well. Barry mentions three highly relevant points including that, a.) there were actual defenders defending LeBron at the time and b.) you don't know if LeBron makes whatever shot you want him to make, and c.) Korver is one of the best three-point shooters in the game and was wide open. Parker responds "C'mon Rick, you gotta stop."
Barry then went to the "you didn't play the game" well and then they started yelling over each other about their resumes before Barry calls Parker a loser. Parker continually talked over Barry and that sent him over the edge even more.
The crux of the matter is that Barry believes that as someone who played at the highest level, it's his opinion that LeBron shouldn't be criticized for that play because he has the requisite knowledge to recognize it was the correct choice. He says that Parker's opinion, by virtue of his lack of experience as a player, is a loser's opinion.
There is perhaps no better explanation of this point than the one offered by LeBron James himself, when asked if he would do the same thing again:
These are the things that are going on in LeBron James's head while he is playing an incredibly high-stakes game. More than likely, these thoughts did not go through Rob Parker's head while he was simply watching and yelling at his TV.
It is certainly annoying when players or ex-players do the whole "you never played" thing—it can sometimes feel like a get out of jail free card to say whatever you want—but that doesn't mean there isn't valuable insight that mere observers don't have access to. Anyway, when it comes to digesting the relative merits of a specific basketball play, I'll take my chances with two Hall-of-Famers rather than a professional talker who got fired for talking.