NBA Playoffs 2011: Why LeBron James Hasn’t Established Himself as a Closer Yet

NBA Playoffs 2011 is not the arrival of a new closer

In sports we are quick to anoint. We were quick to condemn Dirk Nowitzki as a choker and we are growing quickly attached to the idea of LeBron James as a closer.

Neither are entirely true.

James hit key shots against the Bulls last night to put the game to bed. With just four minutes remaining the game was knotted up, but James drained two key shots – a jumper and a three pointer- to effectively put the game out of reach.

This wasn’t the first time in the playoffs he found himself throwing daggers.  In their closeout Game 5 against the Celtics, James rained buckets down to pull the plug on the 2010-11 Celts.

However, two great games does not a closer make.

LeBron, for all his clutch play in the last few weeks, has been woefully inept at willing his team back to victory throughout the season. His many failed attempts at last second shots were to the point where media and fans alike were wondering if it shouldn’t be Dwyane Wade handling the ball in the fourth quarter.

Stealing Money: The 10 Worst NBA Free Agents Ever

While it might not be fair to pigeon hole James as either, there is one other deterrent to calling James clutch, beside his small percentage of success as a closer, is his lack of an NBA ring.

Like it or not most who earn the label of clutch performer, whether it be Ray Allen, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant or even Dwyane Wade all have a ring to their name. In some cases the moniker came before the title, but essentially a title was needed to validate it.

Even Derrick Rose, who’s ascension to the label has been quick, will need to win a ring for such a honor to last.

While James is showing his mettle in the playoffs he’ll need more than just a couple of good games to prove he’s one of the best clutch players around.