LeBron James has had one helluva week. He earned his second NBA title and second straight Finals MVP honor, and celebrated with a victory parade in Miami. Now, he also landed the cover of Sports Illustrated for the 20th time.
In the cover story, the NBA superstar details what he calls a “Michael Jordan moment” during Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs.
During the game, James finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds, but perhaps the biggest shot of the night came with 27 seconds left on the clock, when James rose and drained a 19-footer to give Miami a two-possession lead that the Spurs would not overcome.
Here’s an excerpt from story (via SI.com):
Before Game 7, Miami assistant David Fizdale showed James cut-ups of the San Antonio defense leaving him alone near the free-throw line. Then coaches underlined his sterling percentages in that area this season. “Even the best have self-doubt at times when what they’re doing isn’t working,” James says. “You need a reminder.” He does not study hot zones, but he does watch old tapes. He found one that was taken last summer in his high-school gym, at St. Vincent-St. Mary, when he was burnishing his J. “Why would you abandon this thing that’s helped make you what you are?” James asked himself. “Stop second-guessing yourself. Go do it. Make it happen.”
James uncorked 20 shots outside the paint in Game 7, the most since he arrived in South Florida three years ago. He drained nine, including five three-pointers. But with 33 seconds left, Miami was only up by two, and James bounced the ball on the blazing Heat logo at midcourt. He was back in the ring of fire. With the floor expertly spaced by Spoelstra, guard Mario Chalmers darted up from the post to set a screen on Leonard at the left elbow, and James bounded around it. Parker switched onto him, but James planted his left shoulder into Parker’s chest, sending him stumbling backward. Leonard recovered, tossing out a hand to contest, but James did not hesitate. He pulled up from 20 feet, easy as an August afternoon at St. V, with the same result. “I know it wasn’t the magnitude of MJ hitting that shot in ’98, but I definitely thought about him,” James said. “It was an MJ moment.” He paused as a turn of phrase came to mind. “It was an LJ moment.”