Why is Lebron James sometimes referred to as a “choker” in basketball? Is it fair to blame him for his team’s performance during crunch time?

Well, many NBA fans love to hate on Lebron, so we can go through each series and see whether it’s fair to label him a ‘choker’ or not:

2006 vs Pistons – not a choke because Lebron was 21 years old and with his second best player Larry Hughes took a 64 win Pistons to 7 games. Bron put up his usual 27/8/7 statline despite the Pistons famed defense. This is an achievement not something to be criticized.

2007 vs Spurs – again, not a choke because Lebron took a team with second best player being Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Finals. Many haters point out that he averaged 22 PPG on 38% shooting which is objectively bad from a stats standpoint. Ok, but is this surprising given that the Spurs were triple and quadruple teaming him the whole series while his second best player in the Finals was Drew Gooden? I don’t think its fair to criticize Bron’s stats in this Finals since Spurs pretty much just put everyone on him.

2008 vs Celtics – This 2008 Celtics team had 4 Hall of Famers and would go on to eventually win the championship. Bron – again with a subpar team – took them to 7 games and dropped 45 in Game 7 in the loss. Not a choke. He showed up in the elimination game.

2009 vs Magic – Bron averaged a ridiculous 38/8/8 this series including a buzzer beater in Game 2. Haters will say he choked against the Magic because he had a 66 win team. Well, this series turned out to be a mismatch because the Magic had more size. Every position on the floor except for SF were outmatched for the Cavs so everyone on the Magic effectively had to be doubled. So the Magic essentially just let Bron score while locking up everyone else. One man cannot do everything and Bron lost this series. But it’s objectively not a choke – Bron put up the best stats of his career in this series.

2010 vs Celtics – This is the series that KG said ‘broke’ Lebron and forced him to go to Miami. Haters say he gave up on his team. Well, this Celtics team ended up going to the Finals and in the pivotal Game 6, Bron puts up 27/19/10 a triple double in the loss. He led both teams in points and rebounds. How is this a choke? He showed up in the elimination game once again.

2011 vs Mavs – this is the one everyone says is his most famous choke. He averaged 18 PPG in the series and had 8 points in Game 4. It’s hard to argue against this one because Bron himself criticized his own performance here but I will say that after re-watching this series several times, the Mavs did do an incredible job defending Bron and forcing him to pass and blocking off his driving lanes whenever he got the ball. Bron should have been more aggressive. But being outscored by Jason Terry does look bad here, so yes, lets say this one he legitimately choked in.

2014 vs Spurs – I don’t think this is a choke. Bron averaged 28/8/4 in the series on 57% shooting. He put up a 31/10/5 in Game 5 the elimination game. Neither Wade or Bosh showed up this series. Bron didn’t choke, the Spurs were just a better team and Wade was on one leg at this point.

2015 vs Warriors – Well with Kyrie and Love out, this was basically a repeat of the 2009 Magic series. The Cavs were outmatched in nearly every position. Bron did his best putting up 35/14/9 in the series. So I don’t consider this a choke from Lebron.

2017 vs Warriors – Bron averaged 33/12/10 this series. There’s only so much you can do against one of the best teams of all time with Curry/KD in their primes. Not a choke.

2018 vs Warriors – same story here except no Kyrie. Bron averages 34/8/10 in the series against a much more stacked team. Not a choke.

2021 vs Suns – Lebron averaged 23/7/8 in this series against the eventual Finalists. Not his best series but at this point he’s definitely not in his prime and what’s more concerning is he still led his team in points. What’s AD doing averaging 17 PPG? That’s who the blame should be on, not Bron.

2023 vs Nuggets – Lebron puts up 40/10/9 in the elimination Game 4 as he got swept. Sure he got swept, but it’s definitely no fault of his. He put up 40 points! as a 38 year old!

2024 vs Nuggets – Lebron puts up 30/9/11 in the elimination Game 5. So again.. you see a pattern here? Lebron almost always shows up in elimination games. He averages 33.6 PPG in elimination games the highest out of any player. So it’s hard to make an argument for him choking if he always shows up in the most crucial games.

So I think the only ‘legitimate’ choke is the 2011 Finals. Everything else if haters say he choked, it’s because they don’t know the difference between losing and choking. They just assume lose = choked. They don’t know the proper definition of what a choke is. A choke is not showing up in the crucial elimination game (Which Bron historically has never done), OR losing while being favored to win (which only applies to 2011, Bron has never blown a 3–1 lead)


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