Up until last night, The Block, the pinnacle of LeBron James’s NBA career-to-date—a block so outlandish that even LeBron called it a “career-defining” moment—was the high water mark on his sparkling basketball résumé. LeBron’s chasedown block on Andre Iguodola in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals was so incredible and consequential that it was given it’s own nickname, “The Block,” which has taken its place in the pantheon of Cleveland sports legends.
But all of that was before what LeBron James did to Courtney Lee last night. This wasn’t a chasedown, where LeBron is given at least a brief element of surprise. This was a man-on-man, “come at me Bro!” scenario, and Lee foolishly took the bait, leading to what might be the best block of LeBron’s career.
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After a turnover, Lee caught an outlet pass on the right side of the court. He’d already crossed halfcourt and appeared to have a free and easy path to the hoop. Look at where LeBron is when Lee catches the ball. You’ll appreciate this in a moment.
By the time Lee gains full control of the basketball (the pass was thrown slightly ahead of him), LeBron has already closed the gap between them, and is now daring Lee to drive to the basket against him.
History tells us that would be a mistake on Lee’s part. The Knicks were down 17 points at the time, and there was really no reason for Lee to try to become an Internet legend. But Lee, perhaps momentarily inhabited by the devil, ignored the warning signs and decided to test LeBron—and, well, here’s what happened.
LeBron pinned Lee’s dunk attempt to the backboard as if he were pinning the tail on a donkey 12 feet in the air. Life comes at you fast, and for Lee, who was having one of his best games of the season, all of his in-game achievements were quickly rendered irrelevant by one incredibly poor decision.