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LeBron's 'amazing' achievement; Hall of Famer slights Heat; Canes, Dolphins news

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

As LeBron James steamrolls toward another MVP award, spearheading this remarkable winning streak, there might be nothing more impressive in his individual body of work this season than the 55.7 shooting percentage, easily a career high.

James stands poised to be the first player in NBA history to average at least 26 points, 8 rebounds, 7 rebounds and shoot 55 percent. To appreciate how “amazing” that shooting percentage is for a player his size (6-8), to use Charlotte guard Ben Gordon’s word, consider this:

My analysis of more than three decades of NBA data reveals James’ percentage would be the highest of any starting small forward, with any kind of three-point element to his game, since the NBA implemented the three-point shot in 1979-80.

Chris Mullin (55.3 percent in 1996-97) is the only one even close. James regularly plays minutes at power forward, but he starts at small forward.

“He improved his post-up game and now that he has developed his three-point shooting, this reminds me of Michael Jordan,” TNT analyst and Hall of Famer Reggie Miller said by phone Tuesday. “How the heck are you supposed to guard him? David Stern should just call a press conference now and give him the MVP award."

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said James has become “so efficient at shooting” that “he really has no weakness.” Gordon said: “I don’t see him taking any bad shots.”

Some perspective: In the three-point shot era, 10 starting small forwards have shot at least 55 percent in a season.

But of those 10, only Mullin made more than two three-pointers or attempted at least 10 in that season. (Mullin made 83; James has 92 threes this season on 39.1 percent shooting, easily his career-high for three-point accuracy.) That’s significant, because launching lots of three-pointers can drag down shooting percentages.

The other nine who shot at least 55 percent, some multiple times: James Worthy, Bernard King, Adrian Dantley, Walter Davis, Calvin Natt, Marques Johnson, Cedric Maxwell, Rodney McCray and Kevin Gamble.

Of the greatest small forwards ever, only Worthy ever shot, over a season, as well as James is doing this year. But Worthy shot a combined 1 for 30 on threes in the four years he did that.

The highest Larry Bird ever shot in a season was 52.7, Scottie Pippen 52, Rick Barry 51, Alex English 54, Julius Erving 54.6. Dominique Wilkins, Elgin Baylor and John Havlicek never shot 50 percent.

“The thing LeBron added is the ability to square up and shoot,” Kobe Bryant said. “He has a lot of confidence in that jumper, which opens up the rest of his game when he’s able to knock down the mid-range shot because guys have to close out.”

James is shooting 45 percent from 16 to 23 feet, up from 39 last season. He’s at 50 percent in the paint, up from 43. And he has made half of his 38 corner three-pointers after hitting 32 percent the past two years.

“I’m not surprised LeBron is shooting like this,” Pippen said. “He’s very patient and disciplined with the shots he takes. And he gets a lot of dunks.” In fact, his 429 transition points – many dunks and layups – are most in the league.

James -- who has raised his shooting six consecutive seasons, from 47.6 in 2006-07 -- “is going to be 50-plus percent the rest of his career because of his improved jump shooting, which had been a relative weakness,” Shane Battier said. “And he gets any shot he wants.” 

CHATTER

### Not everyone is impressed by the Heat’s streak. Hall of Famer Walt Frazier, the Knicks announcer, called it “more of an indication of how weak the NBA is right now than their superiority. Please don’t say this is a great team. This is not a great team. I wouldn’t rank them anywhere near the top 10 best teams ever.”

Dick Vitale blasted Frazier’s comment on ESPN Radio Tuesday, ranting: “Give me a break! That’s absurd, ludicrous, ridiculous! To win 27 in a row blows my mind.”

### Heat players can’t avoid streak talk: Rashard Lewis was implored by his garbage man to keep it going; Norris Cole said a woman in church asked him Sunday if Miami will win every game the rest of the year; and Battier says his wife told him: “I don’t care how many games you’ve won in a row. I need you to watch our daughter while I take a run.’ So the Battier family is not impressed.”

### Among those enjoying the UM NCAA Tournament run: Rick Barry, the Hall of Famer and the greatest player in Canes history.

“It’s cool - I’m happy for them and for Jim Larranaga and I am rooting for them,” Barry said from his Colorado home Tuesday. “After the game Sunday, I texted Jim: ‘You have two good players with off games and you can still win.’ Rion Brown saved their [butt] the last game. Jim has them playing as a team, unselfishly. I like Shane Larkin a lot. It’s nice to see the program come back to prominence.”

Barry, who believes staying in or near the top 25 is sustainable for UM long-term, said Larranaga had interest in his son Canyon last year, but “my son felt it would be better off to play in an arena where his father’s name isn’t hanging in the rafters. Jim was the first Miami coach who had interest in any of my boys.” He ended up at College of Charleston, which --- according to Barry --- plays UM the next three years.

### Larranaga also received congratulatory texts Sunday from Pat Riley (who asked him for tickets for UM’s game Thursday in Washington D.C., according to Larranaga) and Celtics coach Doc Rivers (Larranaga’s son Jay works on Rivers’ staff)…. Many former Canes are offering support. Malcolm Grant earlier texted Julian Gamble from Australia: “This is crazy! I’ve never been prouder to be a Hurricane.”

### The NFL allows team to bring 30 non-local draft prospects to their headquarters, and the Dolphins are using some of those visits on positions they don’t need, such as Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel and receiver teammate Marquess Wilson. Wilson quit the team in November, alleging verbal abuse by coach Mike Leach.

Dolphins receivers coach Ken O’Keefe met privately with Tennessee receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter even after Miami signed Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson.

Taking Patterson at 12 would be very surprising considering Miami has needs elsewhere, but this is clear: If a receiver is high on Miami’s board in rounds two through four, Miami could draft him and trade Davone Bess.

### For Marlins and Canes football notes from Tuesday afternoon, please see our last post. 

   

Comments

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Mike

too bad lebron will leave for cleveland in a few years.

TK SWAN!!

THE ONLY WAY I TRADE BESS IS IF THE TEAM SIGNS AUSTIN.OTHER WISE DO NOT TRADE BESS EVEN IF YOU DRAFT ANOTHER RECEIVER. WHAT THE TEAM NEEDS IS TO DRAFT A TE BECAUSE AFTER THIS SEASON KELLER MAY WALK OR MAY NOT WORK OUT.

TinSouthMiami

Pat Riley asking for freebie tickets is kinda pathetic in my opinion

Andrew

You can be sure the Dolphins will screw up the draft.Thats what they do.

Jo jo

Hope the basketball Canes can get past Marquette.They do have potential yet untapped.Thankfully...Gamble can play Reggie s spot.It s too funny and a homer s view that Walt Frazier really thinks the Heat s accomplishment means little during their win streak.Typical NY or Boston hater.Too funny.Just shows the degree of jealousy and envy some have for the VERY SUCCESSFUL MIAMI HEAT.It accentuates actually how lacking their teams are.

Cual?

Hahaha, "kind of pathetic"?

You don't think Pat Riley can afford tickets? You don't think he's doing Larranga A FAVOR by asking to get seats in the UM section?

Wow.

Juan

walt frazier is a clown

green

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV5-DaI5ULg

Did anyone notice Reggie Johnson get hurt? I saw Julian Gamble twist an ankle and Kenny Kadji take couple hard falls, but nothing on Reggie.

Little confused why Reggie Johnson didn't go to D.C. even if hurt. Injured players almost always accompany team on road. Imminent surgery?
-- jorge milian

EMINENCE FRONT

green

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Canadiens

If he was only going to sit and cheer, he would be on this trip. I think the pain got too much and they left him to rehab in the hopes of getting him back for the next round, if we get there. Otherwise, I would expect to see him in DC, even if in an Ibis costume.
-- Original CanesFan

LES HABITANTS

green

http://twitpic.com/cerqb1

Cowboys Stadium with the basketball court ready to go
-- @darrenrovell

STAGECOACH INN

green

Next year's East Regional. RT @thedevilwolf: If the NCAA tournament was worth anything, it would be played in MSG. Am I right?
-- david teel

WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS ARENA

green

https://twitter.com/InsideTheU/status/316974625210916865/photo/1

@kadji35 in the Nike Hyperflight "Kobe Bryant" and "LeBron James" before practice in DC
--InsideTheU

BALLROOM SHOES

Marios

Walt Frazier just made the most ridiculous statement. It's not like in 1971 the league was loaded with great.

green

https://twitter.com/nikebasketball/status/315194550043951105/photo/1

Florida Gulf Coast does not get its Nike gear for free. They pay for everything.
-- @darrenrovell

U GET WHAT'S COMING TO U

green

https://twitter.com/CanesHoops/status/316978886028177408/photo/1

New Larkin shoes. #Sweet16Canes
-- ‏@CanesHoops

ARTSY FARTSY

green

Tip of the hat to all the local media covering #Sweet16Canes
-- chris freet

A who's who of natl media in DC: @ESPNAndyKatz @SIPeteThamel @GoodmanCBS @Rachel__Nichols
-- @CanesHoops

THE CRITICS CHOICE

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