When LeBron James came into the league, opposing teams were quick to spot his weakness: his lack of a consistent jumpshot. So they would gladly sag off him and give him space whenever he jacks up a shot. They knew that more often than not, James will brick it. But on March 18, 2011, everything changed. Donning the Miami Heat jersey, LeBron had an offensive outburst with almost nothing but jumpers.
More than a passer
In a road game against the Hawks, James erupted for 43 points en route to a 106-85 win. He also had two rebounds and three assists — which is not necessarily your typical James statline. That’s because James got it going the entire night. There was really no reason to do anything else.
James shot 16-of-21 from the field, 5-of-7 from deep, and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. As seen in the highlight reel, the four-time champion got to 43 points on nothing but jumpshots, save three lay-ups which were all scored through fastbreak opportunities.
James had the stroke going from the get-go as he shot a perfect 7-of-7 from the field. In the third quarter, he exploded for 23 points, outscoring the Hawks in the process. The game was over by then. James sat out the entire fourth quarter.
Was it just an ordinary game for James or was he out to make a statement? It seems like the latter. After all, there were times when he was matched up with a bigger but slower defender. He could’ve easily shown off his quick and explosive first step to leave the bigman in the dust. But James settled for jump shots by way of stepbacks and hesitation moves.
He even knocked down a couple of 3-pointers in transition. These type of shots are only reserved for pure shooters. That’s how confident James was on that night.
For his good friend Dwyane Wade, it was just another game of James showing off his deep offensive arsenal. And every single time James puts on a show, Wade is amazed.
"Every time he does it, you kind of don't know what to do. It's surreal," Wade said, per ESPN.
As for the Hawks, they were didn’t how to cope when James seemingly couldn’t miss. Frustration showed, as evidenced by Zaza Pachulia’s flagrant foul on James in the third quarter.
"We got a little discouraged when LeBron was making all those shots," said Atlanta's Al Horford, who said his team "just kind of lost sight of going inside."
The Hawks probably should’ve tried their best to maintain their composure. Yes, it’s frustrating to lose the game right before your eyes. But James saw the change in their behavior and continued to pounce.
"You make backbreaking 3s and pull-up jumpers and things like that, you continue to get stops, you can see that you start to wear them down," James said.
James definitely wore the Hawks down. He also made it known that he’s not just a playmaker and an inside scorer. LeBron is one heck of a complete player.