ESPN writer John Schumann wrote a column that many thought would not come this soon. Kobe Bryant is no longer considered the most clutch player in the NBA anymore.
In an annual poll of general managers, one question stuck with me: who should take the last shot?
For 10 years in a row, Bryant had been the top pick in the GM poll for who should take that last second shot in the game. He has been de-throned by Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Durant received 46.7 percent of the votes over Kobe’s 40 percent, according to NBA.com.
In the annual poll, they consider clutch time as the “last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, with a score differential of five points or less.” The real question is, does being clutch mean what they say it means?
What about when Reggie Miller scored six points in five seconds against the New York Knicks to seal the game? How about when Tracy McGrady scored 13 points in 33 seconds against the San Antonio Spurs? Or how about when Dirk Nowitzki had a sprained right hand and pulled off a last second lay-up against the Miami Heat to win a game in the Western Conference finals in the 2011 NBA season?
Everyone’s definition of a clutch player can be different, but I believe there should be a few things that make a clutch player a real clutch player.
Someone who is clutch is usually the guy on the floor who wants the pressure to take the last shot, he is saying give me the ball and I will make the shot.
Another characteristic of a clutch player is good instincts. They need to know when to shoot in certain situations.
If his team is down by one point, he needs to time and hopefully make the shot with only a second or two left on the clock, so the other team doesn’t have time to counter their shot. And that takes practice to become consistent.
I grew up understanding from those around me that Bryant was the Mr. Clutch of our time.
As I grew older, I understood how basketball worked and realized that I was watching one of the best players, not of my time, but of all time. Bryant will be known as one of the most clutch players of all-time.
Through his playoff career, Bryant averaged 25.6 points and has an overall point count of 29, 484 points, which is fifth on the all-time leading scorers list on espn.go.com.
Even though Durant may be the Mr. Clutch of the next generation, I will have a sour taste in my mouth knowing that Bryant is now second-best for the first time in a decade.