Heat Feet Paradox

The league admits that LeBron James got away with a travel. This is not unprecedented, his feet certainly skidded on one famous playoff buzzer beater. Rob Mahoney describes the mistake, here:

“However, there are two flaws in James’ execution. The first: he attempts to execute a jump stop but does not land both of his feet on the floor simultaneously, a necessary requirement of the rule…The second: following his jump stop, LeBron reverse pivots using his left foot as his base, but slides his foot over from the white boundary line into the painted area itself.”

This is one incident, but it illustrates what many have noticed: LeBron’s feet, not the most nimble. Eerily perceptive court vision, incredible handle, nice jump shot, great finisher. Feet, not the most nimble. His footwork needs footwork.

In contrast, Dwyane Wade’s feet are more dexterous than your average person’s hand. His Eurostep is legendary, and while his post game is rarely used, it certainly looks cool.

It could be easy to conclude that Wade naturally has better feet than James. But not so fast–I’d hate for you to have to backpedal (Sorry, couldn’t resist the corn). From a Henry Abbott post, on Wade’s tendency to strike with heel when running:

“His knee braces may be a result of his technique inefficiencies. This kind of movement could overload the foot and decrease ankle instability, not to talk of reducing the mobility level of the athlete.” 

The same post demonstrates LeBron to have wonderful, injury-shooing running form. James strikes with the forefoot, Wade strikes with the mid. Dwyane might have plantar fasciitis, LeBron’s maladies are usually abstract media tropes.

The Heat Feet Paradox is just one of many instances that speak to how compartmentalized skills can be at the highest level. If you want a great example, look to Joel Anthony. Joel on defense would completely bully Joel on offense. Anthony’s hand-eye coordination only exists on one end of the court. It makes intuitive sense that dexterity would be applicable across a wide athletic spectrum, but this does not seem to be the case.

Dwyane Wade’s naturally great feet are special when used for trickery, and sabotaging when used for a morning jog. LeBron’s clumsy feet are a Tarahumara dream on a change of possession, but sabotaging if noticed by a perceptive ref. So who has the better feet?


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