There are moments in a basketball game where all of the pressure is on. The stakes are high, all chips are in the center of the table. Its winning time. The defense gets tougher, the rim gets smaller, the backboard is further away. Its hard to run any effective motion to get a shot off, let alone get yourself open to create your own shot. These are the moments that make players great; stories are created for us to tell to future generations.
In winning time, fouls are awarded often. Foul shots are supposed to be the easiest look that a player can get–in the hardest moments of the game these circumstances go through a great refinement. Tens of thousands of people have eyes on one thing–the shooter. The pressure feels like the arena is 5,000 leagues under the sea. The tension can be felt in the air as the audience anticipates the shot.
Free throw percentages vary from player to player and team to team as it is. In the clutch, these percentages will change just like the wind blows. Some players relish the moment while some just crumble. Rajon Rondo’s free throw percentage in the clutch bumps up from 60% to 88% according to NBA.com’s advanced statistics. These are the moments of the game that can break players down. They separate men from boys and champions form all-stars. Making the shots that you’re supposed to make elevate a players legacy to the highest level.
Derrick Rose missed out on an NCAA championship because of free throws that he could not make. Gilbert Arenas allowed the Washington Wizards to be eliminated from the playoffs because of the intimidation of free throws. Most recently, Omer Asik let the Philadelphia 76ers make history because he couldn’t make the easiest shot that the game had to offer. The pressure got the best of these players.
The easiest shot to take in the hardest moments is never a simple thing to live down. You can forever go down in history as a champion or a choker. Ask LeBron James. The public gives him no breaks because of the clutch shots that he hasn’t made. Embracing the pressure is not an easy thing to do. These are the shots that no one remembers until the waning moments of the game. Fair or unfair, that’s the way that things go. If you choke, you’re a choker. If you succeed, you have to do it on a consistent basis. This shot is the key to survival in the clutch.
Will you beat the G.O.A.T or a goat?