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Kobe Bryant: Is The Black Mamba Still The Most Clutch Player in The NBA?

Hayden Kim@@HayDayKimCorrespondent IIIDecember 21, 2010

The 2010-2011 NBA season is in full bloom, and it's around that time where the great are sorted out from the good, and the mediocre are sorted out from the straight-up bad.

In every sport, the fans live for the big plays, especially for the game winners. When one mentions game winners in basketball, a couple names should come to mind: Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, though there are obviously other great players that have proved to be great in the clutch.

Every kid who has grown up playing basketball can relate to the fact that we have all pretended to be our favorite players, whoever that may have been; yelling out their names just before making that imaginary game winner, or imitating players that have a signature shot: Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Larry Bird, etc.

The bottom line is this: Certain players come to mind when thinking of certain subjects, and I'd like to think that Kobe is among those names when thinking of game winners, right alongside the great Michael Jordan.

Due to the competitive nature that is the NBA, game winners are almost expected on a daily basis. Though it may be unfair, we the fans have been known to expect nothing short of great.

It is very hard to define a game winner. The controversial topic has led to many definitions: Some include free throws, some include shots with less than five seconds to go, shots with less than 10 secs to go, but of course every list has the infamous buzzer-beaters.

According to Lakers Ground.Net Forums, Kobe has had 24 game winners, not including free-throws, in his career, and of course that is still counting.

As a Lakers' fan, being part of Kobe's history of game winners has been great. My personal favorite was the game winner against the Pheonix Suns in Game 4 of Round 1 in the 2006 series between the Lakers and Suns.

Kobe has had a countless number of game winners, and with those, factored into what is Kobe's image, so far I haven't seen many players even come close to the stature of the Black Mamba today.

It may be a little early to be speculating who are the most clutch players in the league today, but the title of being a "clutch player" comes with history and repetition and so far, names such as LeBron, Wade, Dirk, and Carmelo, just haven't matched up to Kobe or Jordan's level, though Carmelo has already hit one this year.

The reality is, whether or not Kobe has hit a game winner in this season or not, most teams, players, and coaches will agree that if they had to choose one player to trust the game with less than a minute to go, it would have to be Kobe, and honestly that is due to his history of hitting big shots when "it" matters the most, which is all anyone can ask for.

Kobe Bryant is still the most clutch player in the NBA today and it is not merely due to the number of game winners he had, but the simple fact that he finds a way to put a team on his back when others are tired and the clock is ticking down.

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