King for One Night

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Whether you’re Homecoming King, Prom King or Mr. ‘whatever college you go to’, there is that one night where you are celebrated and put on a pedestal in which most mortals couldn’t dream, but in the sports world we call that a Game 7. The most exciting game in pro sports has produced some of the greatest performances ever. It has catapulted careers (Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and MJ) and also diminished them as well (John Starks going 2-18 including 0-10 in the 4th quarter). I know my Knicks fans are going to burn my post but it has to be documented.  If you were in a Game 7, which basketball player would you want to be: LeBron, Kobe or Michael Jordan?

Before I began writing this, I asked some of my brothers their thoughts and most of them scoffed at this question. As a matter of fact the first response I got was MJ doesn’t get to Game7 lol. Damn man…don’t shoot the messenger it’s all just regular conversation.  From this conversation, I gave them three choices: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Even though these 3 names were selected leave it to my man Cook to say Dirk. I ignored that response not out of spite but if everyone throws a name I will be writing forever. When talking to these guys, the consensus I got was MJ all the way and I can’t blame him. They went as far as saying; MJ shouldn’t even be included in these scenarios. He shouldn’t be mentioned with other basketball players. I can sense any 80’s baby with any basketball acumen would pick MJ but times have changed and possibly so will the answer. As so eloquently stated: “If you ask Jordan or anybody…you be crazy not to pick Jordan 99% of the time LOL”.  The respect for MJ is definitely warranted as I continue to hear support for MJ for example, ‘in practice I’m taking MJ, on vacation I’m taking MJ’. Another quote was ‘I’m picking MJ in games 1-7. And 8, OT, 1st quarter, 4th quarter. Halftime. Offseason.’

While success is normally determined by championships, Game 7 can be used in many arguments as well.  How a superstar competes under the fell clutch of circumstance goes a long way? This is the ultimate “win or go home” scenario. It’s a 48 minute PowerPoint presentation on clutch with a lot of visual effects. There is no bigger game, no greater moment than a Game 7. So how do some of the greatest players match up?

Game 7 Performances  
Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant LeBron James
Record 2-1 5-1 3-2
PPG 33.7 22.2 34.4
RPG 7.7 8 9.0
APG 7 5 3.6
FG% 45.7% 38.9% 47.3%

 

We can start with the man of the hour which is LeBron James. There was a time when LeBron was called “LeBrick James” or “Prince James” by Skip Bayless but recently he has begun to shed those names with 5 game 7’s in his playoff career.  He was 0-2 in Cleveland but now he has won 3 straight Game 7’s with the Heat averaging 34.4 pts, 9.0 reb and 3.6 ast. Let’s not forget his last Game 7 against the Spurs won them the championship.  LeBron has been on the come up and with a lot of basketball life left these stats could become staggering.

Here’s how LeBron has done in Game 7:

Opponent Minutes  Played FGM FGA FG% 3P% PTS REBS ASTS STLS W-L
Pistons(2006) 47 11 24 45.8 0.0 27 8 2 1 L
Celtics (2008) 47 14 29 48.3 27.3 45 5 6 2 L
Celtics(2012) 48 9 21 42.9 20.0 31 12 2 1 W
Pacers(2013) 41 8 17 47.1 50.0 32 8 4 2 W
Spurs(2013) 45 12 23 52.2 50.0 37 12 4 2 W
 
Career Game 7 Average 45.6 10.8 22.8 47.3 29.5 34.4 9.0 3.6 1.6 3-2

 

Next contestant is Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba. The next legend in Laker colors. Only a matter of time before he has a statue and jersey lifted to the rafters amongst other Laker heroes. In six games, the Mamba averages 22.2 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal on 38.9 percent shooting. Even though his shooting percentage isn’t as efficient as the others he still has a 5-1 record which equates to 83.3 percent. Pretty impressive. One of these Game 7s wasn’t just a series clincher; it was a title clincher back in 2010 against the Boston Celtics earning him his 5th championship.

Here’s how Kobe has done in Game 7:

Opponent Minutes Played FGM FGA FG% 3P% PTS REB AST STLs W-L
Blazers (2000) 47 9 19 47.4 25.0 25 11 7 0 W
Kings (2002) 52 10 26 38.5 66.7 30 10 7 2 W
Suns (2006) 43 8 16 50.0 50.0 24 4 1 0 L
Rockets (2009) 33 4 12 33.3 25.0 14 7 5 3 W
Celtics (2010) 45 6 24 25.0 0.0 23 15 2 1 W
Nuggets(2012) 45 7 16 43.8 100 17 1 8 0 W
 
Career Game 7’s averages 44.2 7.3 18.8 38.9 37.0 22.2 8.0 5.0 1.0 5-1

 

Then the final contestant and notably the greatest player to ever play this game but the government calls him Michael Jeffrey Jordan. “Psycho, I’m liable to go Michael Take your pick, Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, Game 6” MJ has the least amount of appearances in Game 7, none of them which occurred in the Finals which further exemplifies that Jay lyric and how dominant the Bulls’ team were during their era. Even though he played in only 3 Game 7’s, his stats are mind blowing: 33.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal  on 45.7 percent shooting.

Here’s how MJ has done in Game 7:

Opponent MP FGM FGA FG% 3P% PTS REBS ASTS STLS W-L
Pistons   (1990) 45 13 27 48.1 0.0 38 8 9 1 L
Knicks   (1992) 42 15 29 51.7 N/A 42 6 4 2 W
Pacers   (1998) 42 9 25 36.0 N/A 28 9 8 0 W
 
Career Game 7 Average 43 12.3 27.0 45.7 0.0 33.7 7.7 7.0 1.0 2-1

 

What makes Jordan so revered about his game 7 performances is that he almost got a triple double in 2 of the 3 games. The Bulls were rarely pushed to a game 7 in MJ’s career but something worth mentioning is that in the two times that he did win game 7, he went on to win the championship.  The same can be said for Kobe as well as LeBron nevertheless MJ has the superior stat sheet.

Upon further review which may not have been a review for some of us, I would choose Michael Jordan. The other 2 contestants are by no means a slouch in this category but like my brother Whitfield said, ‘MJ shouldn’t even be included in these scenarios. He shouldn’t be mentioned with other basketball players’. If you went by number of Game 7’s played then Kobe wins hands down but looking at these stats MJ had the most polished Game 7’s. Even with 3 straight wins, LBJ is still just beginning his NBA Playoff career. These three people are the Game 7 Past, Present and the Future which makes this harder than before because Kobe if healthy has about 2-3 years, if LeBron stays healthy maybe another 10 years. If that occurs then this conversation might not even matter sike who I am kidding as long as Michael Jordan name is brought up it’s worth a conversation.

*All tables used in this article were compiled from Bleacherreport.com, ESPN.com and NBA.com

 

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