LeBron James passed up two big shots at the All-Star game, twice, in the West’s 152-149 win over the East. And Kobe Bryant gave him an earful about it. Twice.
In the first sequence, with the East down by two, a play was drawn up for Deron Williams. But after Williams’ potentially-tying three came up short, the ball was tipped back out to him, then ended up in James’ hands. Faced with a double team, LeBron forced a pass into the corner that was picked off, and the game was seemingly over. Kobe, in apparent disbelief that a player as good as LeBron wouldn’t shoot from almost half court with two guys on him, quickly let The King know that you can’t pass in that situation if you want to be considered the best: you have to be the one to shoot. At least, we think that’s what he said. Decide for yourself: here’s video of the first sequence.
LeBron would get another chance, though. After Blake Griffin hit only one of two free throws, the East found themselves down three, with a chance to send the game to overtime. Would LeBron take Kobe’s challenge to heart, and do what most psychotically competitive Great Clutch Players (like Kobe himself, or MJ, or Larry Bird) would have done in that situation, which is demand the ball in the timeout and take the three himself?
Nope! He’d… inbound the pass. Kobe, once again, was in disbelief that this was happening, and went up to LeBron and, once again, had to say something. LeBron deferred to Dwyane Wade, Wade missed his three-point attempt, and the game ended. Here’s video:
Now, does it really matter that LeBron passed up the final shot, twice? It probably shouldn’t. This was an exhibition game. No one played defense. Blake Griffin was shooting threes. Pitbull performed at halftime. Still, Kobe’s “WTF” reaction was great, and telling. A player like Bryant simply could not believe that a player like LeBron didn’t want to decide the game — even if it was just an exhibition — himself.