“James put’s it up, no good, rebound Bosh, he kicks it out to Allen…. BANG tied game with 5 seconds remaining’. What makes someone a clutch performer? Is it something your born with or something anyone can learn? Within the field sport the term ‘clutch’ is often used to define someone who rises to an occasion and effects any given game late on when it matters, to push themselves and or their team to win. This is commonly used term in all the major sports in the world such as Football, Golf, Rugby, but in this occasion the sport in question is Basketball.
The quote at the start, is the commentary of the final seconds of game six of the 2013 NBA finals, between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat had the superstar Lebron James and the Spurs had the best Power Forward ever in the veteran Tim Duncan. The Spurs were 3-2 up in a best of six series, with a game 7 decider if things get tied at 3-3. With 20 seconds to go in game six the Spurs were winning 95-92, this is where in sport your ‘clutch’ performers take over. The Heat were 20 seconds away from losing the Finals, then Ray Allen one the best shooters in the history of the NBA hits a last gasp 3 pointer to tie the game. This is where the question gets asked what makes someone ‘clutch’? I would say the easy part is the 1000’s of hours of practise and the amount of natural talent certain people possess, which can get you to an elite sporting level. The intangible part however is truly believing you can be person who can do something amazing when it really matters. I believe that is either in you as a human being or its not. My old football coach at in our first training session made us all take penalties to decide who would take them in the season. As we took them, he would say ‘If you miss you have to run around the pitch 30 times’, this he argued applied pressure so he could really see who could stay calm under pressure and deliver. This element is exactly what was happening in game six (just on a much larger scale), Ray Allen knew if he missed it was all over.
Michael Jordan, the commonly believed best ever basketball player and debatably the most iconic sporting person ever, was famous for his pressure play. He once said ‘I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed’. Despite all the failures in his career, Jordan, if the game was on the line would say ‘just pass me the ball’. This is something that 99% of people would shy away from, this is however what makes a sporting individual great. The ability to want to be ‘the man’ all the time that makes your team win.
The Miami Heat would go to over time, and win the game. They would then win game 7 and become NBA Champions, in debatable the greatest finals ever. When asked about the shot after the game Allen said ‘We were losing most of the game, in truth I had a quiet game, I was just thinking lord please give me one chance do something good’. That is what makes someone a ‘clutch’ performer it’s the wanting to be able to win the game and then having the bottle to be able to execute whatever it is you need to do in any situation.