NBA

Does LeBron James Shoot Right-Handed Because of Michael Jordan?

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last 17 years, you likely know LeBron James is the greatest basketball player in the world. Of course, when a player is so dominant for so long, many people take them for granted. But James’ current season with the Lakers reminds us just how special he is.

One of James’ biggest strengths is his ability to make shots nearly all the time. The forward shoots the ball primarily with his right hand. Yet casual fans often express surprise when they learn James is left-handed. Let’s break down James’ best-known shots and the fascinating story behind his decision to shoot with his non-dominant hand.

LeBron James’ signature shots

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers goes in for a layup
LeBron James goes in for a layup | Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Many of the greatest NBA players of all time have a signature shot. Think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s skyhook, Allen Iverson‘s crossover, or Dirk Nowitzki’s one-legged fadeaway. Unlike those superstars, James doesn’t have a single identifiable move. Instead, he’s honed a variety of moves for every conceivable situation.

Not only this, but James has mastered the signature shots of many of his Hall-of-Fame predecessors. A few years ago, against the Chicago Bulls, James pulled off a one-handed pump fake — one of Michael Jordan’s most identifiable moves. James also executed a nearly perfect imitation of Jordan’s turnaround jumper.

James feels comfortable shooting from nearly anywhere. That said, a whopping 36% of his shots come within three feet of the rim, according to ESPN. James has an arsenal of close-range shots. When not slamming the ball home, he often prefers to shoot a feathery floater, either laying it up off the backboard or sending it smoothly through the net. 

James is naturally left-handed

The 35-year-old diligently practices shooting with both hands. Being able to do this either hand gives a player a huge advantage, especially when trying to score at the rim around an opposing shot-blocker. James even routinely works on his lefty jumper.

Yet, if you look at James’ shooting on any given night, you’ll notice he shoots the majority of his shots with his right hand. In fact, he goes to his right hand so consistently that most people assume he is naturally right-handed.

In all other aspects of his life, however, James is a left-hander. He writes, eats, and does virtually everything else using his left hand. This fact makes James’ accomplishments on the court even more mind-bending.

James’ explanation for shooting right-handed

At this point, you may wonder how James ended up shooting right-handed. This very question came up in a post-game interview a few years ago. During the game, James knocked down three floaters using his left hand. Reporters noticed this deviation from the norm and asked him about it.

At first, James demurred, saying he had no idea how he ended up shooting righty. Then he quickly changed course, speculating that he probably developed a right-handed shot from watching his NBA idols growing up. In particular, James called out Michael Jordan and Penny Hardaway.

James said he thought those guys “looked cool” and so he deliberately emulated them in his own game. James did express regret that he didn’t stick with his left-handed shooting. From his perspective now, players who are confident shooting left-handed look way cooler than their right-handed counterparts.

Regardless of which hand he uses, James continues to reign supreme as the greatest player in the NBA today.

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