The All-NBA Choke Team: 5 Players Who Falter the Most Under Pressure
The NBA is where amazing happens. The fourth quarter and overtime are where stars are born and legends are made—or in some cases, where choke artists thrive.
I'll be taking making a team of the biggest choke artists in the NBA, as I like to call it, the All-NBA Choke team consisting of current players, and one recent retiree.
In the words of the infamous Demetry James, "Let's get into mayne!"
PG: Steve Nash
Steve Nash is one of the best point guards to ever step on an NBA court. While he was always a fantastic regular season player, Nash often faltered when the postseason came around.
In the 2007-08 season, the Suns were 55-27 and Nash was averaging 17 points and 11 assists per game. But when the playoffs came around and his team needed him most, Nash's play regressed. He averaged only 16 points and eight assists per game as the Suns were bounced from the playoffs 4-0 in the first round by the Spurs.
Even in Nash's two MVP seasons he was never able to get his team over the hump in the West, even though the Lakers were playing poorly and the Spurs were their only real opposition.
Nash never really choked in the fourth quarter, per se, but he was never able to translate his fantastic regular season play into postseason success.
SG: Kobe Bryant
I know I'm going to get a lot of flack for this one. But his Final's statistics cannot be ignored. Kobe consistently played very poorly in his Finals appearances, and if it weren't for Shaq, I doubt Kobe would have won any of his first three rings.
In his first Finals appearance, 2000, Kobe averaged a pedestrian 15.6 points per game while shooting a horrible 37 percent. All while only contributing four assists and four rebounds per game. If it were not for Shaq averaging 38 points and 17 rebounds per game, the Lakers would not have had a shot.
The next season, Bryant was at again. While he raised his totals to 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists, he only shot 41 percent from the field and was once again out-shined by O'Neal. Shaq put up 33 points and 16 rebounds per game.
In 2002 against the Nets, Kobe played his best postseason basketball. Putting up nearly identical numbers to his '01 performance while raising his shooting percentage to 51 percent. But yet again, the show was Shaq's who averaged 36 and 12 while taking home is third consecutive Finals MVP.
Kobe is one of the greatest players to ever play the game, but when he has been counted on in the Finals, he has not performed to the high standards he has set for himself. Often shooting poorly from the field and not getting his teammates involved.
He does have five rings, but it does not detract from how pedestrian he played in five of his six Finals appearances.
SF: LeBron James
I don't think this one needs much explanation. LeBron has often faltered in the fourth quarter and even with talented Cavaliers teams, he was never able to win a ring.
After joining the Heat in one of the most highly talked about signings ever, LeBron put unbelievable expectations upon himself and the team. Need I remind of you: "Not six, not seven...?"
The Heat advanced to the NBA Finals, but not without much controversy surrounding LeBron. He often disappeared in the fourth quarter and deferred to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to carry the burden. When the Heat needed LeBron most, he never came to play and they were eventually beat by the next man on my list, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
WHAT!? Yes, Dirk Nowitzki is a choke artist. While he was finally able to get his team over the hump last season against the Miami Heat, Dirk was a player known for faltering once the playoffs came around.
In the first round of the 2007 NBA playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks were the No. 1 seed. But Dirk let his team down. He averaged only 19.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game while only shooting 38 percent. He often looked mentally out of the game and ultimately they lost to the No. 8 seeded Golden State Warriors in six games.
And in 2006, Dirk and the Mavericks choked away a title as Dwyane Wade went wild in getting the Heat a championship.
Dirk was often on extremely talented Mavericks teams, but they never put it together. Dirk often played soft and never quite got into rhythm in many of the series.
But he did finally get over the hump last season when he played out of his mind and lead the Mavericks to the title over the Heat. But you can't look past all the times Nowitzki failed to get the Mavericks the championship.
C: Yao Ming
Yao Ming is/was one of the biggest stories to ever hit the NBA. Highly hyped upon entering the draft, the 7'6" center was selected first overall in the 2002 NBA Draft.
He had incredible amounts of talent, and given his size, he should have been the best center for years. However, he never quite lived up to it. In Yao's best season he averaged 25 points and nine rebounds per game on 51 percent shooting.
But he was often hurt and rarely took advantage of his tremendous size, never averaging more than 11 rebounds per game. He never necessarily choked in a series or a game, but he never lived up to the hype and never took any of the Rockets teams to the Finals.
Even in the playoffs, Yao never played as well as he did during the regular season. Yao was a story of under-performing and never taking advantage of the size he was given.
And yes, I know he recently retired, but I'm not ready to say any other center in the NBA is a "choker." However, honorable mention could go to Dwight Howard here, but I want to see what he does this season and possibly next with a change of scenery.
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