Kobe Bryant in the Clutch...the Rest of the StoryMuch has been said recently about Kobe Bryant's proficiency in "clutch" situations. I offered my general take on this issue last year in an article titled Being a Clutch Player is More Significant than Just Making Clutch Shots.
An interesting article digs deeper into a much cited stat--that Kobe Bryant has made just six of 22 game-winning field goal attempts during his playoff career--and shows that when those 22 shots are placed into a larger context Bryant actually performed well overall and the Lakers were very successful for the most part even in the games when Bryant missed a late shot that could have potentially tied or won the contest. For instance--just to cite the most recent of Bryant's misses--it is more than a bit of a stretch to say that Bryant was not "clutch" after he produced 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists with just two turnovers in a 103-101 Lakers victory over the Suns in game five of the 2010 Western Conference Finals; Bryant's "sin" in this game (according to those who mindlessly categorize all late game shots the same way regardless of distance, time remaining, etc.) was that he missed a desperation three point heave with just two seconds left in the game: two Suns crowded Bryant to contest his shot, leaving Ron Artest free to gather the miss and convert the game-winning putback. Maybe someday the "stat gurus" will figure out that the defensive attention that Bryant draws creates scoring opportunities for Bryant's teammates. NBA TV's Chris Webber has shown a refreshingly clearheaded grasp of this concept in several recent comments, repeatedly declaring that all of the Lakers other than Bryant were "mere mortals" prior to coming to L.A. and they would be "mere mortals" now if they were not playing alongside Bryant.
I don't expect biased or foolish writers to ever figure this stuff out--but don't fans deserve better than the recycled, nonsensical garbage shoveled out by the "big names" who cover the NBA? Are there really no editors who have the sense/guts to buck the establishment, shock the world and provide a forum for someone who has not been officially vetted by the would-be Don of NBA blogging/writing? Or is ESPN going to ultimately achieve a Pravda-like monopoly on NBA coverage because so many people are afraid to challenge the self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader" for fear of not being invited to blog for ESPN(Chicago/Boston/fill in the name of your hometown).com?
posted by David Friedman @ 5:56 AM