It appears LeBron James has developed a signature move.
Not his come-from-behind block, mind you, which has become the hallmark play in his repertoire and the single most breathtaking athletic feat in sports. No, this one occurs on offense.
It begins in an isolation set. Just LBJ and his defender on a lonely island with a look of total helplessness. LeBron jab fakes to soften the defender’s stance and to push him off balance. Then his 6’8, 260 pound body — abruptly, frighteningly — pirouettes backward into a fadeaway jumper. Swish.
Not sure if it qualifies as a go-to move because LeBron doesn’t bust it out too often (I’ve only seen it two or three times), and there’s the fact that one part of its motion seems completely unnecessary. A “go-to move” is, by my definition, a player’s most reliable and more importantly, his quickest option of scoring. This particular move doesn’t really qualify for LeBron, does it? The hard-step is done for separation. That’s understandable. But wouldn’t it be more efficient to just step back, instead of spinning out, into the fade?
Yes, of course, it would. But let’s be real — this move isn’t about utility. It’s about swag. Most people don’t have the gonads — or ability — to pull off that move on the playground, let alone the NBA hardwood, where games have meaning and millions of witnesses (no pun intended). And frankly, only two people on the planet (LeBron and Kobe) can intentionally execute such a tactic with consistency. That’s why such a shot serves, more than anything, as a bigheaded display of “I’m better than you, and I’m going to rub it in your face.” It’s LeBron thumbing his nose as well as him leaving his autograph on that particular game. And full disclosure: I’m fine with that. I actually kinda like it. More superstars need signature moves.
It’s not as unstoppable as Kareem’s skyhook or frequented as often as Jordan’s patented fade away (nor is it as pretty as this shot, which separated Allan Houston’s ankles from his body). But for LeBron, the NBA’s ambassador and the league’s best player, it’s fitting.