LeBron James’ Top 10 Clutch Performances
For years, the LeBron Haters argued that LeBron wasn’t “clutch,” and he has proved them wrong again and again. Yet, the doubters still exist. In the past two weeks, LeBron James gave us two of the most clutch performances of his career, but where do these two performances rank on his all-time top 10 list of clutch performances?
10. LeBron’s First Game
While statistically it wasn’t one of the greatest performances of his career, LeBron showed everyone that he was going to live up to the hype from his first game in the NBA. Brad Nessler summed up the unmatched hype as he opened the game’s broadcast with these words. “Sacramento. The site of the season opener of the much anticipated debut of one LeBron James, and tonight you can cut the anticipation with a knife…the most anticipated debut of any first-year athlete in any sport.” LeBron immediately came out and scored 10 points in the first nine minutes of the game. He would go on to score 25 points which are still the most points scored in the NBA debut of any player straight out of high school.
9. Feb. 20th, 2014: Heat vs Thunder
For the weeks leading up to this game, the topic surrounding the NBA was that Kevin Durant was passing LeBron James as the NBA’s best player. Most were picking Durant as the MVP and throwing LeBron to the side. However, in their recent much anticipated match-up, LeBron rose to the occasion. James scored Miami’s first 12 points and led the Heat to a 103-81 victory over the Thunder. LeBron outscored Durant 33-28 in the win even though he missed part of the game with a broken nose.
8. Feb. 12th, 2014: Heat vs. Warriors
In one of the most clutch regular season performances you will ever witness, LeBron had 36 points and nine assists in the Heat’s recent contest against Steph Curry and the Warriors. With the Heat trailing by two, LeBron pulled up against one of the NBA’s premier defenders and hit a game winning 3-pointer with less than a second remaining to beat the Warriors.
Here’s the video of the impressive step-back three to win the game:
7. 2013 Eastern Conference Finals: Game 1 vs. the Indiana Pacers
Against Paul George and the rival Indiana Pacers, LeBron’s Heat led by 3 with just a few seconds left in regulation when George rose up and knocked down a 3-pointer in LeBron’s face to send the game to overtime.
In that overtime, the Heat trailed by one with 2.2 seconds remaining. LeBron received the inbound pass, spun around George and scored the left-handed layup as time expired to give the Heat the victory. LeBron finished the game with a triple-double.
6. 2006 Eastern Conference Playoffs: Game 3 and 5 against the Washington Wizards
In his first career playoff series, LeBron hit two game-winners. He set the NBA record for most points scored in a player’s first road playoff game with 41 points including the game-winning shot in Game 3. Then in Game 5, LeBron drove baseline in overtime with his team trailing by one to hit the winning layup around four defenders with 0.9 seconds remaining.
5. 2012 Eastern Conference Finals: Game 6 against the Boston Celtics
With the Heat facing elimination, LeBron gave a historical performance with 45 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists in 45 minutes against the Celtics on a night in which he received little help. LeBron scored 15 unassisted field goals, tying a career high. Dwyane Wade was the only other player on the team to score in double digits. The performance kept the Heat alive and gave LeBron the opportunity to win his first NBA Championship.
4. 2009 Eastern Conference Finals: Game 2 vs. the Orlando Magic
On LeBron’s most famous shot, he nailed a fade away 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Cavaliers a 96-95 win over the Orlando Magic.
3. 2013 NBA Finals: Game 6 vs. the San Antonio Spurs
Although this game will always be remembered for Ray Allen’s performance after his clutch 3-pointer, his shot wouldn’t have mattered without LeBron. Facing elimination against the Spurs in the Finals, the Heat looked as though they were going to lose the game and the series. With the Heat trailing, Mario Chalmers air balled a jumper, but LeBron was there to grab the errant shot and stuff it in with two hands while losing his headband. Without the headband, LeBron went on a tear. He had a monster block against Tim Duncan to keep the Spurs from pulling away, and he hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to keep the Heat in the game.
2. 2013 NBA Finals: Game 7 vs. the San Antonio Spurs
Without LeBron’s Game 7 performance, Game 6 would have been for nothing. After the Spurs had been daring him to shoot jumpers all series long, LeBron made them pay. He finished the game with 37 points including a long jumper to seal the victory with less than 30 seconds remaining to get his second championship.
1. 2007 Eastern Conference Finals: Game 5 vs. the Detroit Pistons
In the most clutch performance of his career and the most underrated playoff performance ever, LeBron scored 29 of the Cavaliers final 30 points including 25 points in a row. LeBron dunked the ball to tie the game and send it to overtime, hit a shot to tie the game at the end of overtime and scored the winning basket with 2.2 seconds remaining in double overtime as the Cavaliers defeated the Pistons.
By: Mark Pace- Pass the Pill Contributor