Lebron James opts to play for Miami

I have nothing to say about this development. But I do owe the basketball fans among our readers an update to a series of posts I’ve written comparing the statistics of James and Kobe Bryant in their respective teams’ final post-season series.
In each of the past three years, the Lakers and Cavs have ended their season against a common opponent — Boston, Orlando, and Boston. In 2008 and 2009, I found that Lebron’s statistics in the final series were a little better than Kobe’s.
This year, I was certain the statistics would tell a very different story, but that’s not the case.
Kobe outscored Lebron this time around (by about 1.5 points per game — approximately 28.5 points to approximately 27). But James continued to have an edge in rebounds per game (9 to 8) and assists per game (7 to 4).
After watching Lebron on a number of occasions run the shot clock down to two seconds and then turn the ball over, I thought for sure Kobe would have the better numbers on turnovers and assist/turnover ratio. Lebron did have more turnovers per game (4.5 to about 4). But Lebron’s assist to turnover ratio was 43/27, while Kobe’s was precisely 1 to 1 (27 of each).
I also thought Kobe would have a big edge in shooting percentages, but he doesn’t. James had the better overall field goal percentage (approximately 45 percent to approximately 40.5 percent). And this time around James was about as accurate from three-point territory, where both struggled. James was 7-26; Bryant was 13-47. With percentages this low, James comes off better merely by virtue of launching fewer attempts.
As always, Bryant was more accurate from the free-throw line (approximately 88 percent to approximately 74 percent). But, again as usual, James made more free throws per game because he got to the line more often. That’s a plus when the percentages are so high.
This is a probably a situation where one shouldn’t rely on statistics entirely to the exclusion of one’s eyes. And the Lakers’ greater success against Boston naturally weighs heavily in Kobe’s favor. But that success seems overwhelmingly attributable to players other than Kobe and Lebron (in Cleveland’s case, I must single out Antawn Jamison, whose acquisition I believed would tilt things in favor of the Cavs).
No wonder James opted for new teammates.

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