Mention the name Reggie Miller and the first images that come to mind are from his legendary playoff performances against the New York Knicks.
Over 18 seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Miller epitomized the word "clutch" with his deadly shooting when the game was on the line.
With the release of the new ESPN documentary Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks, it's time to take a look at the NBA's 10 most clutch performers ever.
When the game is on the line and the clock is winding down, in whose hands do you want the basketball?
Let's count them down.
I was tossing up between Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade for the 10th spot, and I ended up going with Anthony, even though D-Wade won a title almost single-handedly with clutch plays (or should I say free throws and help from the refs?).
Ever since Carmelo joined the league in 2003, he has been a clutch player for the Denver Nuggets. He has been among the league leaders in clutch baskets and game winners almost every season of his career.
Pound for pound, there is probably not a more efficient scorer in the NBA than Melo. He can shoot from anywhere on the floor, get to the basket, get to the line, and, most of all, he can finish when the game is on the line.
If Melo can transfer his regular season clutchness into the playoffs on a more consistent basis, he'll be able to make his away up this list.
Check out an entire video of Melo's game-winning shots from 2006-2008.
When healthy, Tracy McGrady was one of the most devastating clutch players in the NBA.
With his ability to shoot over anyone, McGrady was a nightmare for opposing teams in crunch time. And if he was feeling it, you can pretty much forget about it and go home.
I know McGrady hasn't had much playoff success, but in the regular season, at least, T-Mac has hit his fair share of winners.
Ordinarily, this would not have propelled him into the top 10, but McGrady is often credited with one of the best clutch performances in NBA history, when he scored 13 points in 35 seconds to rally the Houston Rockets to a remarkable victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
If you are still skeptical, just watch this video and comment once you pick your jaw off the floor.
John Havlicek was one of the coolest NBA players of all time, especially in the clutch. With a nickname like "Hondo" (from the John Wayne movie), you would have to be.
Hondo was an integral part of a Boston Celtics dynasty that won eight NBA titles with him in the lineup. Even when he played as the sixth man, make no mistake, Hondo would be on the floor if a big basket or defensive stop was needed.
At 34 years of age, Havlicek won NBA Finals MVP in 1974 after scoring nine points (a shared NBA record) in a single overtime period.
In Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals (often regarded as the greatest NBA game ever), Havlicek made an astounding bank shot in the second overtime before the Celtics prevailed in the third overtime.
But, of course, Hondo is best known for one of the most famous clutch plays in NBA history, when he stole the ball in Game Seven of the 1965 NBA Finals to prevent a potential title-winning shot from the Philadelphia 76ers, thereby preserving the Celtics dynasty.
Check it out.
LeBron James' legacy as a clutch player is still in its infancy, but, even at just 25 years of age, there are already countless King James clutch stories to tell.
Early in his career, LeBron was criticized for not taking the final shot by passing the ball to open teammates. Now, when the game is on the line, opponents know LeBron will be taking the last shot—whether it's a pull-up three, drive to the hole, or half-court shot—and probably make it too.
The playoffs are where legends are made. From the two game-winners against the Washington Wizards in his playoff debut in 2006, to the series-tying three-pointer against the Orlando Magic in the 2009 playoffs, LeBron has cemented himself as one of the premier clutch players in the NBA today.
What propels LeBron into the top 10 of all time is his legendary performance against the Detroit Pistons in the 2007 playoffs, when he scored the Cavs' last 25 points and 29 of 30 in a double-overtime victory.
Watch it below with a majestic classical music soundtrack.
With the nickname "Big Shot Rob," Robert Horry has made an entire career out of hitting clutch baskets. He's also the only role player on this list.
Time after time, Horry has found himself wide open along the three-point line with the clock winding down and his team needing a basket. Whether it is with the Houston Rockets, the LA Lakers, or the San Antonio Spurs, Horry has delivered, making him a seven-time NBA champion.
Horry has a YouTube video featuring his top 10 clutch playoff plays. How many players in NBA history have enough big-time plays for that?
I would have loved to put Reggie Miller higher, but being the fifth-greatest clutch performer ever isn't a bad place to be.
If I were in a Game 7 of an NBA playoff series and up by two points with one second left on the clock, there is no player in NBA history that I would fear more than Reggie Miller for that last-second three-pointer.
Twenty-five points in the fourth quarter against the Knicks in the 1994 playoffs, eight points in 8.9 seconds against the Knicks a year later, the game-winning three over Michael Jordan in 1998, and the 40-footer and double-handed driving dunk against the Nets in 2002.
But what made Reggie Miller so special was not just his ability to hit the big shots when it mattered—it was always the dramatic and seemingly miraculous way he did it that made him one of the greatest clutch performers ever.
You can't have a list ranking the best clutch players of all time without "The Logo," Jerry West.
West made so many clutch shots throughout his career (before the three-point line was introduced to the NBA) that they called him "Mr Clutch." Just think about that.
There was the game-winning steal and layup a the buzzer in Game 3 of the 1962 NBA Finals. The then-record 61 points in Game Five of the same series. The record 46.3 points per game in the 1965 series against Baltimore.
And, of course, no one can forget the legendary 60-foot heave that tied Game Three of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks.
The Black Mamba has gradually ascended up the ranks, and as much as I hate to say it, he has established himself as one of the greatest clutch players to ever play the game of basketball.
This season, Kobe has elevated his crunch time performances to another new level. Every time I switch to ESPN I see a story of Kobe hitting another game-winner.
In fact, Kobe has hit no fewer than six game-winners this season (in the last 10 seconds of a game), and 20 for the decade.
His nearest rival? Vince Carter, with 13. But remember, these are just game-winners, not game-tying shots or other big-time baskets or performances. If you throw all of those in as well, Kobe is officially off the charts.
Kobe has hit so many big-time shots and game-winners that YouTube is flooded with his video compilations, sometimes in multi-part series.
Here's a random one for your perusal, almost seven minutes of Kobe game-winners before 2010.
That's right! The greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, is No. 2.
I originally had Jordan at No. 1 out of fears it would otherwise cause a riot, but after watching the videos over and over, I think I made the right decision in the end.
Make no mistake, Jordan was a phenomenal clutch performer, the best of the best (bar none).
However, Jordan's status as the best player to ever play basketball often makes fans irrational as soon as his name is mentioned. It has almost become blasphemous to suggest Jordan is anything but the greatest in every facet of the game, giving rise to a new generation of ignorant bandwagon fans who think by saying that Jordan is the best means they know everything about basketball.
While Jordan has missed his fair share of clutch shots like any other player on this list, he is best remembered for his ability to come through on the biggest stages.
The 63-point game (albeit in a losing effort). The Shot. The Flu Game. The Last Shot (for the Bulls, at least).
Now, come to think of it, maybe Jordan should be tied for first. Why not watch the last two videos and judge for yourself?
Larry Bird is the best clutch performer of all time.
There is no one cooler in clutch situations than Larry Bird, who seems to have ice water in his veins, hitting impossible shots in opponents' faces like he was taking a stroll through the park.
And Bird never did it with athleticism. Just cold-blooded shots. Right in your face.
Bird has hit game-winners in the faces of countless foes, including Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.
If Bird took the last shot, you expect it to go in. But it wasn't just the offensive plays. Bird has made his fair share of clutch defensive plays too, including the steal off the Isiah Thomas pass that effectively won Boston the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals.
Bird simply did whatever it took for his team to win.
Jordan probably had the more famous clutch shots, but Bird had the more legendary clutch stories. My three favorite ones are:
1. Bird walking into the dressing room of the 1986 Three-Point Contest and saying: "I want all of you to know I am winning this thing. I'm just looking around to see who's gonna finish up second."
Of course, he won it. And the two years after that too, including the famous raised finger on his last three-point shot (just before it went in) to win the contest in 1988.
2. When Reggie Miller (the fifth-best clutch performer of all time, according to this list) tried to psyche out Bird as a rookie from the free throw line late in a game, Bird drilled the first one and said, "Rook, I am the best f@*#ing shooter in the league. In the league. Understand? And you're up here trying to f@*#ing tell me something?" Then he nailed the second one too.
3. In a game late against the Seattle SuperSonics, Bird pointed to Xavier McDaniel the spot where he would hit the game-winner in his face. Naturally, Bird cut to that exact spot, caught the ball, and drilled the shot. Right in McDaniel's face.
Be sure to catch Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks!
This exceptionally well-made documentary by Dan Klores captures all the heat and excitement surrounding those physical, grueling Pacers-Knicks series of the '90s to perfection, including some of Miller's best clutch performances.
A must for all true basketball fans and guaranteed to bring a tear to Indiana Pacers fans (especially as it reminds them of how good the Pacers used to be...).