Four Corners: Which NBA player would you want to take last shot?

February 25, 2010

Only one choice
Ira Winderman

Sun Sentinel

Duh. Put it this way, if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash were on the court, they all would pass the ball to Kobe and get the heck out of the way.

Even Michael Jordan would, but that's more a product of the fact that he just turned 47.

The only debate would be if you needed a 3-pointer to tie, then you might be more likely to turn to a Nash or Rashard Lewis or Mo Williams, considering Kobe entered the week ranked 98th among qualifying players in 3-point percentage.

Then again, he probably would find a way to get those three points with an and-one, anyway.

The real question is why teams don't immediately run a second defender at Bryant. Anyone-but-Kobe remains the preferred defensive option.

iwinderman@tribune.com

No doubt about it
K.C. Johnson

Chicago Tribune

Kobe Bryant gets the last shot of any close game any time and every time. And anybody who writes differently should have his or her sanity checked.

First, Bryant possesses superior scoring versatility over other uber-competitors like, say, LeBron James. He can post up, drive and step back and hit 3-pointers –– either off the glass or not –– as his sixth game-winner this season proved Tuesday night in Memphis.

But beyond his ability, Bryant possesses those necessary ingredients of fearlessness, ego and confidence to succeed in such instances. If he misses, it must be because the ball wasn't round, right? Whether or not he called glass on his banked 3-pointer to beat Miami doesn't matter. What matters is Bryant doesn't miss in clutch moments often so he gets the ball, no questions asked.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

A dissenting opinion
Brian Schmitz

Orlando Sentinel

In my mind, there are three go-to-guys. You know Kobe and LeBron. Do you know the third guy? His nickname is even "Mr. Big Shot."

Give me Chauncey Billups for the win.

Seriously, if I found myself in "Saw VII" and needed somebody to get me out of a death-trap device with the clock counting down, I'd want Billups. Kobe and LeBron wouldn't make it in time because they'd be doing photo shoots.

Now playing for Denver, Billups would not be distracted by fanfare. He is still considered a decorated worker bee, even though he made a career of hitting clutch shots in Detroit. He told USA Today that he's "never mentioned at the start of the conversation. Yet, I'm right there with everybody."

I'll take Mr. Big Shot to make the big shot.

bschmitz@tribune.com

Give the ball to Bryant
Barry Stavro

Los Angeles Times

Let's simplify: Kobe or LeBron? Answer: Kobe.

Why? Bryant has nurtured a Sam Cassell-like skill with his pump-fake, anywhere from the 3-point line on in, that draws defenders who crash into him while he still gets off the shot - sometimes making them - and drawing the foul. Bryant also spent a summer working out with Hakeem Olajuwon to learn the great big man's baseline moves. Kobe now has more shots in his arsenal than LeBron.

Here's another key difference. Kobe is a better foul shooter (84 percent career) than LeBron (74 percent). The threat of getting to the line can force a defender to play off slightly, and that small space offers a better chance for a clear shot.

Small things matter in a one-point game. Give the ball to Bryant.

bstavro@tribune.com

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