Tuesday, October 18, 2011

LeBron James: The Problem with Clutch & Stephen A. Smith

Jerry West’s struggle with depression illustrates why the argument about “clutch” in basketball is stupid and LeBron James doesn’t need to worry about it.

Should LeBron be obsessed with whether or not he was “clutch” in the NBA Finals? Stephen A. Smith said he should obsess about it on ESPN2’s First Take.

There were many problems with Stephen A’s rant (most were addressed on this HEATcast), but the biggest problem is that LeBron was clutch in the two series before the Finals.

Against the Celtics and Bulls, LeBron averaged 35.7 points with 53.5% shooting efficiency, 7.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 3.3 steals, 1.7 blocks and 2.9 turnovers per 48 minutes to produce an estimated 0.292 wins per 48 minutes (Est.WP48). See this spreadsheet for 2011 HEAT playoff stats in the fourth quarter.

An average player produces 0.100 WP48. Star players produce 0.200 WP48. Great players produced 0.300 WP48. For more information on the Wins Produced stat, see the Heat Produced Page.

LeBron produced an estimated 0.274 WP48 in the regular season. He was great in the fourth quarter for a 10-game stretch from the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Eastern Conference Finals and as a result led the HEAT in estimated wins produced in the fourth quarter for the entire playoffs.

Should four games in the Finals matter more than the 10 games before them?

Image from Sports Illustrated
Obsession with failure destroyed one of the NBA’s greatest players, its logo even.

The Associated Press reported that Jerry West revealed his struggles with depression in his new autobiography, West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life.

Publicly, he was known as “Mr. Clutch” for his late-game heroics, but privately, the burden of losing six NBA Finals crushed him under a mountain of depression.
"He wouldn't speak for days at a time ... It worried me," [his wife] Karen West says, adding that "Jerry doesn't say 'I love you.'... Maybe once a year."
West tells HBO he tried therapy, but gave it up, preferring to take Prozac and work through his depression by himself. Read more: miamiherald.com
LeBron is better off tweeting jokes about playing in the NFL than taking Prozac or not speaking to his girlfriend and children because the Dead Basketball Poets Society has a short memory and he hasn’t won a championship ring.

“Mr. Clutch” only got one, after all.

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