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NBA All-Time Clutch Moments

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What does it mean to be clutch? The internet defines clutch as : achieving or characterized by success at a critical moment in a game or competition. Not everyone is born with the ability to make the plays late in a game when their team needs it the most. But there are a select few who jump at the chance to be the hero who knocks down the game winning jumper and raises the crowd to their feet. Some of these players on this list may not have been clutch at all times, but I will give them credit for giving us some of the most clutch moments in NBA history.

Tracy McGrady – 13 points in 35 seconds; December 9, 2004.

Down 76-68 with a little over 35 seconds left in the 4th quarter, McGrady went unconscious versus the San Antonio Spurs and helped the Rockets steal a victory. Regarded as one of the most clutch moments of all time, T-Mac made four 3 pointers, including a four-point play over Tim Duncan. McGrady completed this feat all while having former San Antonio Spur Bruce Bowen, who is known as one of the greatest defenders of all time, draped all over him doing anything he could to deny McGrady the basketball.

LeBron James – Chase down block on Andre Iguodala; June 19, 2016.

Formerly known as one of the most non-clutch players in NBA history, LeBron put all that to rest in this years NBA Finals with less than 2 minutes left in the biggest game of his life. Now known simply as “The Block;” James made the key defensive play to help finally bring a championship to the city of Cleveland. If not for the super athletic block, there is a good chance the Warriors might have gone on to win that game and eventually the championship. The game was tied at 89 and if Iguodala was successful in making the layup, the Warriors could have potentially stole all the momentum and closed out the greatest season in NBA history.

Larry Bird – Inbound pass steal against the Detroit pistons; May 26, 1987.

Larry Bird aka Larry Legend have had some of the most unbelievable moments on court in all of NBA history. In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals with :10 seconds left on the clock, Bird was denied at the rim by multiple Pistons players and the ball was knocked out of bounds off a Celtics player giving Detroit the ball with :05 seconds remaining. Isiah Thomas of the Pistons rushed the ensuing inbounding pass and it was stolen by none other than Larry Bird. Bird tiptoed to the end of the court and passed the ball to a slashing Dennis Johnson who layed in the game winning basket, giving the Celtics a 108-107 victory. The Boston Garden erupted in cheers and the Celtics would go on to win the series 4-3 just four days later.

Kobe Bryant – Layup and jump shot versus the Phoenix Suns; April 30, 2006.

In his 20 year career, Kobe Bryant has hit a shot to either tie the game in the closing seconds or win it all a total of 36 times. None of those shots are as memorable as the two he made in Game 4 of the 2006 Playoffs. Matched up against the heavily favored  #2 seed Phoenix Suns and MVP Steve Nash, the Lakers took 2 of the first 3 games, but it looked as if the Suns would take Game 4. With :08 seconds left in the game, Smush Parker stole the inbound pass from Steve Nash and passed it to Bryant who completed the game tying layup to send it into overtime as the clock expired. In overtime, the Suns again found themselves up with less than :07 seconds remaining. Luke Walton had tied up Steve Nash and forced a jump ball, which he won and tipped to Bryant. Kobe drove the ball up court and pulled up over two Suns defenders at the free throw line and nailed the game winning shot, giving the Lakers a 3-1 lead in the series that they would ultimately lose in 7 games.

Reggie Miller – 8 points in 9 seconds versus the New York Knicks; May 7, 1995.

Referred to as “Miller Time” ; Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals cemented Reggie Miller’s name as one of the most clutch shooters in NBA history. Reggie Miller made a name for himself by killing the New York Knicks, garnering the nickname, “The Knick Killer.”  Just one year prior, Miller was throwing choke signs at Spike Lee while scoring 25 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter of Game 5 in the Eastern Conference Finals. With :18 seconds left on the clock, Miller caught the inbound pass and drilled a 3 pointer to bring the score to within three. Moments later, Reggie stole the Knicks inbound attempt and stepped back to the three point line again and nailed another 3 pointer to tie the game. John Starks of the Knicks was fouled following Miller’s shot and was put on the line for two free throws. Starks would crumble under the pressure and miss both free throws and Miller grabbed the rebound after his second attempt and was put on the line. Knocking in both shots at the line, Miller gave the Pacers a 107-105 lead. Knicks’ guard Greg Anthony would lose his footing while bringing the ball up court and was unable to get a shot off as time expired.

Michael Jordan – Game winning jump shot versus the Utah Jazz; June 14, 1998.

Forever remembered as Michael Jordan’s “Last Shot” with the Chicago Bulls, this is just one of the many shots Jordan hit to seal a win for his Bulls team. One of the greatest images in NBA history is the moment Jordan pulls up for his shot. If you look into the crowd, you can see the sadness, anger, disappointment and disbelief of Utah Jazz fans, who know they have once again been beaten by his Airness. Marking 2 of his 45 total points for the game, Jordan’s last shot came just seconds after a Karl Malone turnover, which was forced by none other than Jordan himself. Down 86-85, Jordan pushed the ball up court with :20 seconds left in the game. Guarded by Byron Russell, MJ drove right towards the top of the free throw line. Russell reached in and Jordan crossed back left(possibly a push off, but shhhhh) and raised up to hit a 2 point jumper, giving the Bulls a 87-86 lead with :5.2 second on the clock. John Stockton would miss a potential game winning 3 point shot and the Bulls would beat the Jazz in six games for the second straight year. This was Jordan’s last Finals appearance and he made it one we as fans would remember for eternity.

About Emanuel Godina

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