Wednesday, May 27, 2009

There is No Such Thing as 'Clutch Free Throws'

I get into a little debate today at work. I told this guy that LeBron James came up lame during last night's game. King James turned the ball over 7 times during the fourth quarter and overtime including some very costly mistakes in the extra period.

He countered with "how could you say that after he hit those huge free throws with 0.5 seconds remaining?" Are you serious?

There is no such thing as clutch free throws. None. Yeah, some are big just because you cannot afford to miss them. But a free throw shot in the first minute is the same as a free throw in the last minute. It is the same 10-foot shot with no defenders and the opportunity to go through a consistent routine. It's the same shot no matter what level you play basketball.

It is the same shot in junior high, high school, college and the NBA. If you shot 80% from the line in high school ... you will probably hit 80% of them in college and 80% in the NBA. It's the same stinking shot. Michael Jordan shot it with his eyes closed at time just to prove that it is all about the routine and focus.

LeBron James shot that 10-foot shot 18 times last night. What other shot do you get to shoot exactly the same 18 times in a game? With 0.5 seconds left, LeBron should have that shot pretty much down cold, right?

This season, LeBron has shot that shot at least 900 times. Again, how many other shots did LeBron take 900 times this year? A shot from the exact same distance from the basket with no defenders? That's why they call them free throws.

So, my opponent decides to say "well, free throws at the end of the game have more pressure on them. If I said you had to hit this free throw for $1 million it would be harder than if you shot it for nothing." Pressure is a state of mind. It causes you to lose focus. That focus allows guys to view the free throw in the moment as nothing more than the shot. Kobe Bryant goes to the line and thrives on hitting those freebies. So do guys like Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller and countless other cats. Why? They don't feel pressure. It doesn't exist. Does it affect some people? Sure but that is more of a sign of weakness than anything.

My point is that there is no difference in the weight of any free throw. They all count the same amount of points, they all are shot from the same distance on the floor, it is undefended and the time of the game when the shots are taking doesn't matter to a hill of beans.

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