NBA Power Rankings 2010 of Anti Kobe Bryants: 10 Biggest Choke Artists
The NBA has played host to some of the most clutch human beings alive.
Larry Bird. Jerry West. Kobe Bryant.
These are the type of guys anyone would drop tons of money in Vegas because it’s a lock they will come through.
And then, there are guys like Chris Webber.
Professional choke artists.
Webber was the antithesis of a choke artist. His no-timeout fiasco in college is known by all sports fans, and he never could get his teams over the hump while in the NBA.
But C-Webb took his talents to TNT, and that’s harder to screw up. Although I’m sure getting in Charles Barkley’s way in the buffet line is one way to do it.
So who takes his place now?
While there will be some people who disagree, as usual, just know that these aren’t the only choke artists, but they fall under my definition of “chokers.”
My definition: People who can’t pull through when it matters.
Honestly, some of these guys aren’t trustworthy enough to tie their own shoes. But who are they?
10. LeBron James
Only one sentence in, and you can hear the “This guy is clearly a Lakers fan” chants already?
But I’m not alone on this one. For a guy who is praised as the second coming of Michael Jordan, it’s surprising that he isn’t in the top three guys I want with the ball and 10 seconds left.
Hell, he’s not even the best guy on his team in the clutch. And I’m not talking about Eddie House.
Another reason for King James making the list is his playoff track record. While he did single-handedly drag the Cavs to an NBA Finals, his postseason performance the last two years with the best team in the East is disappointing at best.
Sure, you can blame it all his teammates, but he sets the pace. And the fact that rumors swirled about him quitting during the playoffs make him the big choker of Cleveland.
Don’t get it twisted, LeBron’s probably the most skilled athlete in the NBA. But Dwyane Wade should handle the ball with two minutes left in the playoffs.
9. Dirk Nowitzki
Everyone knows Nowitzki has a silky smooth jumper and hairstyle, but his abilities in the clutch are about as smooth as off-roading in a Smart Car.
Statistically, Dirk isn’t some shlub when it comes to playoff performances. His postseason numbers are actually better than his career averages almost all the way across the board.
So why’s he at number nine?
Because, for some reason, he couldn’t defeat a Miami Heat team in the Finals that had no match for him. And because he just can’t figure out a way to beat an aging Spurs team almost every year.
People want to call him an Alpha Dog, but he’s more like Upsilon.
He’s hit his share of buzzer-beaters and tough shots. But for the face of a franchise for more than a decade, you’d imagine he’d have a shot he’s famous for.
Even Isaiah Rider had one of those.
8. Antawn Jamison
Jamison is an interesting character. He has never been the number one option during his career, and his hybrid forward abilities have made him a coveted asset in the NBA.
His clutch play, on the other hand, not so much.
LeBron James can tell you all about this one. After the Cavs failed to get Amar’e from Phoenix, they said Jamison would work just as well. He’d be the Robin to LBJ’s Batman that Mo Williams just never turned out to be.
Well, same goes for Jamison
When they needed him most against an athletic big man in Garnett, he went AWOL. He was below his career average in almost every category, and his playoff performance was just dreadful.
If LeBron need you to spot up for a three, make sure you hit it with a higher frequency than I’m sure Jenna Jameson could.
In fact, with her on the team, James might have wanted to stay.
7. Richard Jefferson
Let’s start by congratulating Jefferson on his valiant move to not plunder the San Antonio Spurs budget this year for what would have been one of the NBA’s worst contracts.
Sadly, when the player knows he’s getting paid too much, it’s pretty obvious he’s leaking value like the Exxon Valdez.
The problem with Jefferson is that while he proved he had the whole package in the regular season, he has declined in recent years from a multi-purpose threat to a single-purpose guy to double team off of.
Which is disappointing for guy who is only 31.
His year with the Spurs was a microcosm. His minutes dropped considerably due to his poor play, and he wasn’t even one of the top-three options. He had nearly no pressure on him, and had his first year under 15 ppg since 2002-2003.
6. Amar'e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire looks so cool behind those shades. He’s got the game and mouth to make Knicks fans proud.
And by proud, I mean indefinitely angry.
STAT is a big fan of trash talk. He told media members about how he dominated Pau Gasol in his Memphis days, and how Chris Bosh knows Stoudemire is the better of the two.
New York, you got your King. The king of bark being louder than bite.
Stoudemire turned in one of his worst playoff series ever in the Western Conference Finals against Gasol, and Bosh was by far the more coveted free agent because he decided to play defense occasionally.
But hey, New York’s not used to being in pressure situations. This big choke artist will fit in just fine.
5. Joe Johnson
While it’s tough to decide whether Houdini or Joe Johnson was wearing number two for Atlanta this postseason, it’s clear what his favorite on-court move is.
Sure, he looked strong against the Bucks when they played at home, but that’s a niche field. When his Hawks got to play the Magic, he went from the go-to guy to the go-to pine warmer.
But what many don’t know is that this isn’t a first time occurrence for Jo-Jo.
For the past three seasons, Johnson’s points, assists and field goal percentage, all declined noticeably between regular, and post season play—three stats crucial to his success.
Yet for some reason, the Hawks made him a max contract guy. Good work.
4. Vince Carter
Carter is another example of a guy who loves to take control of the game down the stretch, but isn’t nearly qualified to do it.
Unless “the game” is a dunk contest.
Yes, he’s been one of the most prolific scorers of the decade, and his career average of 22.9 ppg will not be disregarded. However, excluding the 2005-2005 playoffs, Carter’s scoring has noticeably dropped off after the regular season ended.
If he only plans on doing one thing, and doesn’t do it well, it’s a problem.
He showcased this “ability” in his first season in Orlando. His playoff performance was about as solid as magma and hurt the Magic just as much.
He shot well below 40% from the field, was in foul trouble repeatedly, and contributed little elsewhere.
And even Dick Cheney could have shot that well from the outside.
3. Jermaine O'Neal
For a guy who has never played a full season in the NBA, it’s hard to peg him as a choke artist.
But with his performance in Miami last season, he managed to solidify his position.
He went from a healthy 13.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in the regular season to a Terry Schiavo stat line of 4.2 points on 20% shooting against the Celtics.
Dwyane Wade needed someone to help him, but O’Neal was definitely the wrong guy.
But then again, with that roster, no one was.
O’Neal also has the added benefit of not helping the team out when they are doing well. In his two deepest playoff runs as a player (2003-2005), his scoring and rebounding dropped when his teammates needed him most.
In the words of former teammate Mark Jackson, when the post season came around, he’d say “Momma, there goes that man” about O’Neal as well.
2. Shawn Marion
It’s so nice to see Shawn Marion giving back to the community with a charity poker tournament.
Now when he gives back to the team he’s playing for, let me know.
When Marion took his talents to South Beach in the 2007-2008 season, it looked like Miami might have found a Pippen for Wade. But instead, they found the perfect fit for Cash for Clunkers.
The wheels started falling off, and Marion became reliable like Toyota break pads. His scoring dropped every year afterwards, and his regular season stats dipped under his career averages by a significant amount.
But when he got to Dallas, there was no mistaking that the end was nigh.
Sure, he looked like a decent role player during the season. But in a playoff matchup against a Spurs team who physically has no one to guard him, he completely vanished.
His shooting dropped 10%, he averaged under double figure points and rebounds for the first time since the 2000-2001 playoffs. He fell like Wile E. Coyote going off a cliff.
But he’s been known for this. His playoff numbers, even on the run and gun Suns teams, were always lower than his regular season ones. He never took the ball late in games, leaving the work to Steve Nash and Stoudemire.
Nowadays, they need to take the ball out of his hands a lot sooner than that.
1. Tracy McGrady
At first, the Tracy McGrady signing in Detroit seemed like a stupid idea, considering the team has more swingmen than diehard fans left.
But after thinking about it, it makes sense. The Pistons want to improve their squad in the regular season, and don’t care about the playoffs.
Neither does McGrady.
NBA fans all know about his hilarious mess-up when he thought he had advanced to the second round of the playoffs, only to get eliminated shortly after. But that’s what makes him the biggest choke artist in the game today.
He’s never advanced.
He was the top dog on both his Orlando and Houston teams that made the playoffs, yet he could never get it done. Sure, he scored through the roof, but shooting 43% from the field and 30% from the arc for his career are not stellar numbers.
I guess it’s slightly unfair to put someone who’s never been in a meaningful game at the top of the list, but that seems like the ultimate choke.
With all his points, he can’t lift up his teammates with any sort of big time performance.
And don’t get started on him having bad teammates. His 2006-2007 Rockets had a healthy Yao Ming, who’s one of the best offensive centers when not hurt. They went up 2-0 in the series, and couldn’t win on their home court in Game 7.
Stars show up in critical moments. McGrady must have not got the memo.