What is Clutch?

Personally, the first time I heard this word was on First Take, a number of years back, when Skip Bayless said that Lebron James isn't clutch. From my initial understanding of the word, it was specially a word defining how you performed in the last 2 minutes or so, but I don't believe that this is a good definition of the word. People always say that players like Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant are clutch, but the definition is a bit out there still. Is Clutch your efficiency in the closing moments of the game because if it is, none of these players are clutch because they don't/didn't win every game that came down to these clutch situations. Nor did they make every clutch shot or throw every clutch throw (speaking of Tom Brady) to win games, so I ask again, what is clutch? Is it how you approach the game? Does it have to do more with how you psychologically approach the moment? What do I say?Well, I'll take the latter.



Now, let me start off by saying that I do believe that there is a such thing as clutch. Sure, some might say that it all depends on the bounce of the ball, it has nothing to do with the player, but I disagree with this logic. There are certain players that have a knack or ability to capitalize in these "clutch moments" whereas other players just seem to crumble under the pressure. Take Jordan for example, did you know with 24 seconds or less in a game, in his career, Jordan shot an even 50% going 9/18 in these situations. Including the flu game, game winning shot it's goes up to 10/19. This is gaudy considering we as a people consider Kobe Bryant clutch when he doesn't even come close to Jordan in this aspect. In comparison, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James, who are constantly compared to him, don't even come close. Where I believe people differentiate from me is I don't think a player should be defined as clutch just from last second shots or what they do in the last 2 minutes of a game. I, personally, believe there are 3 kinds of clutch performances and they are:

1. Last Minute Clutch

2. 4th Quarter Clutch

3. Game Clutch

Let me explain, since this can get a bit tricky.

Last minute clutch is pretty simple, you make a go a head basket, throw, catch, or run that locks the game up for your team and wins it. This kind of clutch is most notably known as the best kind of clutch and rightfully so. You have the most kind of pressure in this kind of clutch because there's no cause for error. Either you make, catch, run, or throw it the right way or you don't. The players that are most notably attached to this kind of clutch are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Joe Montana, and Tom Brady. This type of clutch can also be seen in football as the last drive clutch, as we saw with Brady earlier this season against the Saints.

Tom Brady FULL 4th Quarter Drive | LIVE 10-13-13 (via NFL October 13)

The 2nd kind of clutch is the 4th Quarter Clutch which is also self explanatory. It's when the game is close going into the 4th or maybe the team is down a few points and a particular player or players turn up their game. The difference between this and the last minute clutch is the fact that there can be error in the play in the 4th Quarter and you can still win with mistakes. Let us remember Tom Brady had two drives before his incredible drive where they could have taken the lead, but the only thing people remember is that he got it done in the end. Same can be said about Lebron James in Game 6 against the Spurs. He had two critical turnovers in the 4th quarter that could have thrown that game away, but all people remember is the fact that he had 16 big points in the 4th and lead his team to the win.

The last type of clutch is the less popular of the 3, but is still clutch none the less. This is the type of clutch that guys like Lebron have, who might not have the last second clutch, but he is clutch none the less. To drive my point home I will give you both a football reference and a basketball reference:

If Sam Bradford was still playing and he led this team to the brink of a playoff birth, but it all came down to the last game against the Seahawks to determine it all. He puts up big numbers in that game and leads this team to the win. Sure, it might not have looked clutch to your normal Brady or Jordan head, but it was clutch none the less, because without his big play in that game, the Rams wouldn't make the playoffs and would be sitting at home.

Now, back from hypothetical, lets get back to real life. Take Lebron's Game 6 performance against the Boston Celtics a year ago when they were on the brink of elimination. Although James came away from that game with a staggering stat line, leading his team to a win over the Boston Celtics, some still question the clutch that was that game, here's the main guy:

LeBron's Game 6 Performance (via ESPN)

Skip Bayless said in this video that he didn't think that it was that clutch and to this I would say that's he's insane and here's why. He said specifically that there was no pressure on Lebron in this game, but that is complete crap. The fact of the matter is if he doesn't come up with that big game, the season is over which means he'd probably still be getting criticized. This also means that the Heat would break the "Big 3 Experiment", failing to get a ring 2 years in a row, which means they would go down as one of, if not the biggest, disappointment and failure in NBA history. That prize now goes to the Lakes debacle last season. Put that all together with the fact that he would have taken a hit to his "King James" persona that he has in the NBA. If you don't believe that this was the biggest pressure situation in his career, up to that point, then you're crazy. That game was the definition of clutch. Just in case you want to see it, here you go:

Heat vs. Celtics Game 6: LeBron James highlights - 45 points, 15 rebounds (6.8.12) (via TheAssociationLiveHD)

My whole point in this post is to say that there are many different types of clutch, maybe even some that I didn't mention in the post. What do you think of my definition of the different types of clutch and did I forget anything when it comes to the subject that you think is important or do you not even believe that there's a such thing as clutch? By the way, the reason why I used so many Basketball references is because that's where I hear it used the most. Thanks for reading.

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