Coaching Clutch

"I like.... Milk Duds"

I was just watching the end of the Lakers v. Thunder game 2 of the playoffs and saw Steve Blake clank a 3 pointer. I know that every Laker fan and the rest of us humans wondering why Kobe didn’t take the last shot. The day before I watched Lebron bricking key free throws down the stretch and avoid contact with anything round and orange in the last 30 seconds, which in most fans minds is the best idea since the iPhone. When polled, fans and players alike say they want Kobe Bryant to take the last shot when the game is on the line. While the NBA wouldn’t dare do a poll for the person they would least like to take the last shot, we all know it would be Lebron James. But that got me thinking.

"Damn Lebron, that thing that you do when you make that orange ball go into that red ring is really neato!"

It’s crazy that Lebron has been labeled a choke artist up until now. People forget what he did against the Pistons in 2007 playoffs with arguably the worst supporting cast in history. All that becomes moot because they got boat raced by the Spurs and Lebron got the bad rap as not being a closer that he holds to this day. The 2011-2012 Lakers don’t seem as clutch or as scary as they used to during those championship runs either. The 2011-2012 Lakers and Lebron James through most of his career have something very much in common… Mike Brown. If you think of the 2000 era Lakers and the 90’s era Bulls there is one major consistent… Phil Jackson. Hell, if you look back at all of the championship teams all the way back to the mid 80’s, the teams are coached by legendary coaches with the exception of maybe K.C. Jones (arguable), Rudy Tomjanovich, Doc Rivers and Rick Carlisle (jury still out). Granted, 69% of the championships since 1985 were won by Phil Jackson, Greg Popovich, and Pat Riley but that just shows how legendary those coaches are. Everyone remembers John Paxton, Steve Kerr, Robert Horry, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, Bruce Bowen, and even sorry ass Derek Fisher.Why? Because they came up clutch and their teams won. But who really came up clutch? These championship teams had coaches that put their players in positions to win. And no, I’m not talking about lame stuff like keeping their team in the game with smart timeout and good substitution patterns. I’m talking about what Rick Carlisle did to the Heat last year daring them to hit open jumpers. What Phil Jackson did when he dared Rondo to shoot a shot outside 12 feet from the basket. Drawing up plays for John Paxson and Steve Kerr. These coaches trusted their players and adjusted their gameplans to go with the situation. Why do you think you see teams that have no business being in the playoffs every year and teams with tons of talent watching from home?

"Lebron told me Mike Brown was stupid but telling Bynum he has a good 3pt shot is just over the line."

If you look at the “best closers” in the NBA over the last few years, the players that both players and people would choose to finish games if they could build a perfect team, Billups, Kobe, Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and the such don’t shoot too well. Kobe is average at best. Billups is pretty bad for a guy with the nickname “Mr. Big Shot.” Players like Dirk and Lebron who have been labeled chokers have better stats down the stretch than all of these players. Dirk earn his label as a clutch performer when he had a good coach get him a ring. Kobe Bryant is known as arguably the best closer in the game because Phil Jackson has coached him all but 4 of his 16 year career. Lebron James has been coached by Paul Silas, Mike Brown, and Eric Spoeltra. Tell me coaching doesn’t matter now.

One Comment

  1. Timothy says:

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