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Poll: NBA Players Pick Michael Jordan, Kobe Over LeBron In The Clutch

Photo by the Miami Herald.

Photo by the Miami Herald.

 

NBA players, through an anonymous poll conducted by ESPN The Magazine, said they would overwhelmingly choose Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant over two-time NBA Finals MVP LeBron James to take the deciding shot of a close game in the final seconds.

The long-retired Jordan received 88 percent of the votes and Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers took the other 12 percent. James insisted he was not offended by the numbers, but then went on to defend himself after practice in New York Wednesday.

“I really don’t care what 30 guys in our league say about me taking the last shot,” the Miami Heat superstar said. “I’ve got a few game winners in my career. I don’t let teams hang around too much for the last shot. I don’t think the definition of clutch is who takes the last shot. There are guys who come through for their teams in different circumstances.”

An Eastern Conference guard said, according to ESPN The Magazine: “I’d want the ball in LeBron’s hands at the end of the game, but I’d want him to pass to Kobe or Jordan for the last shot. And don’t forget, LeBron is not a great free throw shooter, either.”

James has had the notion of not being a clutch performer hanging over his head for years. However, he has made his share of key baskets in the closing seconds, including the game-winning layup against the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and a jump shot against San Antonio in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to put Miami up with 27 seconds left.

“That was a big shot but people forget about it because I made it,” James said. “And I got the steal on the way down on the next play, too.”

He’s been criticized because he has been more prone to pass than shoot in end-game situations, something Jordan and Bryant, critics contend, would only do under duress.

“I want the ball in my hands, I’m going to make the play that’s best for our team,” James said. “I’m not always going to succeed obviously. I had a few turnovers in Game 6 (of the Finals) and I had a few turnovers in Game 2 (on the conference finals) against Indiana, but I want it in my hands.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information, James has shot 7-for-17 in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime of postseason games; Bryant went 7-for-28 and Jordan 9-for-18.

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