Thursday, February 10, 2011

Choke Artist Kobe

Attention all Laker Haters out there! Here's a tasty brew of freshly made Haterade. A piece from Henry Abbott of ESPN questions the claim that Kobe Bryant is a clutch player, and uses statistics to make that argument:
"Bryant makes crunch-time defense easy for opponents by shooting just about every time he touches the ball (over a five-year period, he mustered 56 clutch shots, to go with one assist).

Fans of his raw machismo howl that such criticism misses the point, but the point is that when Bryant gets the ball in crunch time, it's a virtual certainty that he'll shoot it, and it's better than 2-1 odds that he'll miss...

ESPN Stats & Information's Alok Pattani dug through 15 years of NBA data -- Bryant's entire career, regular season and playoffs -- and found that Bryant has attempted 115 shots in the final 24 seconds of a game in which the Lakers were tied or trailed by two or fewer points. He connected on 36, and missed 79 times.

One shot for all the cookies. And the NBA is nearly unanimous that this is the guy to take it, even though he has more than twice as many misses as makes?"

Abbott lists some of his greatest misses:

"In 1997, he famously air-balled two shots that could have beat the Jazz; instead, the Jazz won the series. In 1999, he whiffed on a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied Game 2 against the Spurs. In Game 4 against the Kings in 2002, he missed a 2-pointer that would have tied the game (before the ball was tipped out to Robert Horry for the winning 3). In Game 7 of that same series, Bryant missed a tip that would have won the game in regulation. In Game 3 against the Timberwolves in 2003, he missed two key shots in the last seconds of overtime, and the Lakers lost.

I'll spare you the entire list, but it's long. In the final 24 seconds of playoff games, Bryant has racked up almost as many air balls as makes, making just below 30 percent of game-tying or go-ahead shots. He hasn't hit such a shot in a playoff game, in fact, since 2008, including key misses in the closing moments against the Jazz and Magic in 2009, and the Thunder and Suns last spring. He made one of his four shots in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of last year's Finals."

Ouch. About the worst thing you can call an NBA player is a choker. But it still beats being called a rapist...

The truth about Kobe Bryant in crunch time
Henry Abbott

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