Do clutch athletes exist?
April 15, 2010 8:42 PM Subscribe
Sports filter: Clutch vs Choker. What was Larry Bird's % of hitting game deciding shots compared to other basketball greats?
posted by nathancaswell to sports, hobbies, & recreation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I got into a discussion of the concept of "clutch" versus "choker" players on a football forum. Basically the discussion is whether or not this actually exists. We all agreed that football is not a good sport to compare data on since a QB's success is totally dependent on the successful action of 10 other players (doesn't matter how "clutch" your QB is if the O-line protection breaks down before the WR can finish his route).
I brought up basketball as a sport where you might be able to get a clearer picture of this because so many games in basketball are decided by a designed play to get the ball to your best shooter with a few seconds left (we realize that there are 4 other players on your team, but is there really such a thing as a "clutch" pick?). I also brought up Larry Bird as an example of a player well known for making a game winning shots. Golf is probably a better sport for this discussion, but golf is boring (sorry golfers).
A Google search indicates that:
1) The most highly regarded "clutch" shooters are Bird, Jordan and Jerry West.
2) Bird hit something like 30-35 game winning shots in 13 seasons, compared to 25-27 in Jordan's 20 seasons. I don't see anywhere that lists attempts.
So here's my question. Is there any data out there that would illuminate this discussion? And as a side note, is there data that illuminates the idea that some athletes are more "clutch" than others? Baseball would be another good sport but the data seems marred by PEDs, unfortunately.