The 10 Best Clutch Players in NBA History
This slide show is my personal list of the 10 best clutch players in NBA history.
My critiquing was based on how a specific player was remembered as playing when the game was on the line.
Basically, the top of the list is the player I would want to have the ball with 10 seconds left, down one, and the fate of the game riding on that player's shoulders.
For each player on the countdown I will recite one clutch memory. Enjoy! Leave comments and let me know where you agree/disagree!
#10: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Numbers 10-8 on this countdown were very hard for me, as I think they could be argued.
I chose Kareem for the 10 spot. If the game was on the line with ten seconds left, I would have the point guard chuck it into the low-post and have Kareem throw up a 12-foot hook shot for the game.
He was a very clutch player in his career with big performances in multiple NBA Finals' years.
CLUTCH MEMORY: Although overshadowed by Magic Johnson in the 1980 finals, Kareem had a spectacular clutch performance.
When he went down with a bad ankle injury, he maintained in the game and performed at the game's biggest stage with injury.
Despite not being able to play the rest of the series, he limped and hobbled around, and led his Lakers to a very important victory.
#9 Chauncey Billups
Perhaps some would argue someone like Bill Russell should make the list over Billups, but I did state this list is made off of who I would want to have the ball with the game on the line.
Chauncey wants the ball with the game on the line, and most of the time can produce. I feel he is an underrated clutch player and therefore got the number nine slot.
CLUTCH MEMORY: This was an easy choice. The half court buzzer beater he hit against the New Jersey Nets in the playoffs was a memorable one. One flick of the wrist brought almost every Detroit fan in the arena to their feet, something Billups had done more than once.
#8 John Havlicek
Hondo. The man who was once clocked for running over one mile during a game does not make this list for his great hustle.
He makes the list for being a premiere clutch player for the Celtics. Being a part of some excellent teams filled with talent, it takes a lot to be the team's go-to guy with the game on the line.
CLUTCH MEMORY: One memorable Hondo moment would come from the famous Suns/Celtics 1975 thriller where there was five seconds for John to get off a shot.
He got the inbounds pass and took it to the left. He would throw a ball right off the glass leaving Johnny Most screaming.
#7 Robert Horry
Robert Horry was never the go-to guy on a team, however he has many championship rings from the Lakers, Spurs, and Rockets.
Time and time again when he was called upon to take a big shot he nailed it. A must-have on any clutch list, this man showed one did not need to average twenty points a game to be a clutch hero.
CLUTCH MEMORY: My Robert Horry clutch memory was when the Lakers defeated the Kings in the playoffs.
The ball was loose with a couple seconds left. Many players were struggling to get possession of the ball, but not Robert Horry.
He was waiting in position at the top of the key where the ball and fate met his hands. He would throw up a three and drain it at the buzzer to hand Sacramento a stunning defeat.
#6 Magic Johnson
The man from Michigan State with a larger than life smile happened to also be one of the premier clutch players.
A counter-part of the best single player rivalry in the '80s, and maybe ever, Magic would time and time again prove to be a fantastic clutch basketball player.
CLUTCH MEMORY: In 1987, Game Four of the NBA Championship, the Lakers were down with a chance to win it. Larry Bird had just drained a corner three to put Boston ahead.
Pat Riley drew a play to Kareem, but Magic saw a lane and ran to the middle to throw up a Kareem-esk hook shot and swished it. An epic finals moment was made by Magic.
#5 Kobe Bryant
A third straight Laker on the countdown, Kobe Bryant does not need to convince many to be on this list.
An exceptional showmen, a phenomenal athlete, and a great clutch player Bryant has become since entering the league in the mid-'90s.
CLUTCH MEMORY: In a game where the Lakers trailed 104-102 to the Blazers, and 5.0 seconds on the clock, Kobe popped out and shot a near-impossible three pointer to give Los Angeles the win.
#4 Reggie Miller
Reggie, Reggie, Reggie. As a Knicks' fan I could talk all day about Reggie being clutch, even just against New York.
Reggie always said that the last shot of a game had no correlation to the previous ten shots. When the game is on the line it all comes down to that shot, and Miller was a master.
CLUTCH MEMORY: There was one play that Reggie really made his mark. It was against MJ and the Bulls in the playoffs.
Reggie Miller had one shot at the win and he ran around a screen, pushed off and nailed a three-point buzzer-beater. It was straight out of the Jordan playbook and it showed me that he had arrived as a true clutch star.
#3 Jerry West
If your nickname is Mr. Clutch you are probably going to find yourself on a list like this. Jerry West was the most clutch of a very talented Laker list.
With the game on the line West always said he simply just had the confidence that nobody else had. He knew when the ball got to him he was going to sink it.
CLUTCH MEMORY: In a tight game against the Knicks, the game was tied and the clock winding down. The Knicks brought it down and Dave Debusschere nailed a jumper.
West calmly took the inbounds pass and drained a half court three. The memorable part about it, other than it only being a two-point field goal, is that everyone in Madison Square Garden went nuts...except West. He just looks up at the scoreboard and went back to his bench.
#2 Michael Jordan
Before everyone reading this gets upset, I consider the #1 and #2 spots in this countdown interchangeable as both were unbelievable in my opinion.
The best player ever to play the game was also a darn good clutch player. With a few seconds on the clock and down a point most Chicago fans would be confident as MJ would year after year devastate teams with buzzer-beaters and clutch heroics.
CLUTCH MEMORY: Game One of the NBA finals against the Jazz. Down one and with the ball, Michael slowly dribbled on Russell. The way he was slowly dribbling in control was scary.
He was in a tough spot and in his eyes it looked as if the game was already over. In this spot, he did NOT push off Russell and just pulled up and won the game at the buzzer. A bit older MJ at the time, he did not jump and down just pumped his fist.
#1 Larry Bird
Again, nothing against MJ, but in a close call Bird gets my vote. Larry Legend was a master at the clutch shot.
In many Bird videos, he alludes to Robert Parrish always stating that there were 40,000 eyes on Larry Bird. Everyone knew he was getting the ball and it was up to the defense to stop it.
Bird's heroics with the game on the line left many jumping up and down in Boston every game.
CLUTCH MEMORY: In a regular season game against the Trail Blazers, Bird had two seconds to win a game in which Boston trailed by one.
Double-teamed and pushed deep into the corner, Larry got off one pump fake and threw up a shot at a very difficult angle. The ball did not even bother hitting the rim as it swished right in.
Thanks to all for reading my list and let me know what you think of my opinions!