ESPN Opens the Door on Kobe Bryant’s Clutch Problems Throughout his Career

After Kobe Bryant’s complete meltdown in the closing moments of Game 2 against the Thunder, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to the mainstream media that Kobe is more subpar as a clutch player than not. Perhaps it’s because the misses are piling up to such extreme levels that even casual reporters are scratching their heads and thinking for themselves. While Kobe has hit his share of clutch shots (primarily because he takes more than anyone else), it’s been known for a long time that Kobe’s accuracy is nonexistent in crunch time so it’s good to hear a dose of reality. Here’s a nice discussion at ESPN talking about Kobe’s problems.

There were some laughable statements made from Kobe journalists such as JA Adande, who for some bizarre reason stipulates that Kobe’s accuracy is low because he takes bad shots, but because he still makes some of them, it qualifies making him the greatest clutch player in history. Other panelists made similarly nonsensical reasons for explaining what being clutch was  – such as someone merely having the thrill and will to take clutch shots, or, having a clutch reputation as actually being clutch. Really? Didn’t it used to be that you had to actually make the shot to be called clutch instead of just taking it? Obviously, these are panic defense mechanisms for today’s failed heroes. The only thing that matters is if the ball goes in – plain and simple. And if one is at a career 20-25% in the playoffs (and even worse overall if you include the regular season), the hard numbers are the hard numbers and they do not care for excuses. Missed shots are missed shots and bad shots should just not be taken by anyone.

One can blame Michael Jordan for the emphasis on hero shots since he made it glamorous. But MJ maintained peak efficiency (50%) in the clutch and was much better at creating good shots. He was also a willing playmaker. Hence his accuracy in the clutch is ironclad and as a result, no excuses are necessary. And to refute Kobe journalist JA Adande, Jordan actually took the most difficult shots of anyone since he was, Jordan, and everyone was trying to knock him out. The difference was he made it look easy by maneuvering in such a way that he always got a good look, which made the bad shot into a good one and looked even more incredible. And many times, MJ’s shots were so acrobatic since his athleticism allowed him create like no other that they were shots only he could even take. If one cannot create great shots for himself, one is forced to take a worse shot and such a display of inane attempts is the obvious mark of a significantly inferior player. JA Adande misses this rather elementary point while trying to highlight Kobe’s “bad attempts” as an excuse for his poor FG%. If Adande was a casino owner betting on a 25% winning game against 50% for the customer, his casino would go out of business in a matter of hours. No one wants excuses – just results.

We don’t expect Kobe to reproduce MJ’s heroics because he is not on his level (nor is anyone else), but to not even be at league average means he is simply shooting way out of his league. And also, let’s not forget that being clutch also means being defensively clutch as well. Rarely do we see Kobe make a defensive clutch play on any level.

For more detailed information, Chasing23’s excellent breakdown of Kobe’s shot tracker vs. MJ’s is worth a look. You can also visit 82games for regular season game winning shots data as well.

Also, here are the top clutch players in terms of accuracy for 2012. Clutch is unofficially defined by 82games as the 4th quarter or overtime, with less than 5 minutes left and neither team ahead by more than 5 points.

Ironically, Andrew Bynum leads the pack for this year.

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4 Responses to “ESPN Opens the Door on Kobe Bryant’s Clutch Problems Throughout his Career”

  1. Love ur youtube channel. Please do more MJ fadeaway analysis and drive analysis (including first step, finish..). That’s the two most effective weapons of Mike.

  2. Love ur article!!!

  3. Yo Hoops. Just need to correct you on your final statement. When you hit the 82games.com link again, you need to re-sort the list by points. Bynum isn’t atop of the list, nor is he ahead of Kobe. Otherwise, good stuff once again, mate.

    • Thanks for heads up and good to hear from you! Yes, I was aware of sorting it via FG% to emphasize accuracy over volume. Of course, both are needed to be truly elite in the clutch.

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