LeBron James is undisputedly one of the greatest basketball players to ever live, but there’s one embarrassing moment from his legendary career that he’ll never live down. In the 2011 NBA Finals, James led the Miami Heat against the underdog Dallas Mavericks. What should’ve been an easy championship turned into a nightmare for James, who couldn’t even average 18 points per game in the series. He was also outscored by a 33-year-old bench player in the series loss.
LeBron James and the Heat were heavy favorites in the 2011 NBA Finals
The 2011 Mavericks weren’t a bad team in the slightest, but their talent wasn’t on par with the big three in Miami. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh were all in the primes of their careers entering the NBA Finals series.
Miami came into the series as a -180 favorite, while Dallas stood as a +160 underdog. The Heat entered the season as the odds-on favorites to win the title, and the Mavericks started as a 20/1 longshot.
Miami won the first game of the series, and they were well on their way to opening up a dominant 2-0 lead. Up 15 points in the fourth quarter in Game 2, the Heat melted down the stretch as the Mavericks finished the game on a 22-5 run to knot the series at 1-1.
James had a decent start to the series, scoring 24 and 20 points in the first two games in Miami. But things only got worse from there.
James had his worst playoff game ever in Game 4
Miami bounced back from their meltdown in Game 2 with a win in Game 3. It seemed as if the Heat had straightened out their issues and James was on his way to his first championship.
However, Game 4 is a day James badly wants to forget. The future Hall-of-Famer scored just eight points in the game on 3-11 shooting. He also had four turnovers in the game and finished with a -6 plus/minus.
Despite James’ worst playoff game of his career, the Heat only lost by three points in the end. Miami still had the advantage with two possible home games left in the series, but an unlikely hero stole the show from James and tarnished his reputation forever.
LeBron James was outscored by 33-year-old Jason Terry in the 2011 NBA Finals
After James’ horrid performance in Game 4, the Heat went on to lose the next two games and lose the NBA Finals in six games. It was James’ most embarrassing moment as a professional, as 33-year-old Jason Terry outplayed him down the stretch and even outscored him in the series.
James averaged 17.8 points in the 2011 Finals, while Terry came off the bench every game and averaged 18.0 per game. What’s worse, Terry played 11 fewer minutes per game than James in the series.
James shot 47.8% from the field, while Terry shot 49.4%. Terry scored a game-high 27 points in Miami in Game 6 to clinch the series for the Mavs. James, with the season on the line in front of his home crowd, scored just 21. He also had six turnovers.
When it’s all said and done, James will be regarded as a top two or three NBA player of all time, but he’ll never shake the time he was outplayed by a 33-year-old bench player on the biggest stage.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference