5 Buzzer Beater
Bryant has scored dozens of critical game-winning shots. James doesn’t always seize the clutch, which is a 5-or-less point margin in the last five minutes of a game. With James’s statistics at stake, such as his field goal percentage, he has opted to dribble instead of shoot.
Bryant tends to take more risks on the court with his jump shots than James. More of Bryant’s clutch attempts come from beyond the paint, as opposed to James’s safer shots at the rim. Skip Bayless, host of ESPN’s “First Take,” even observed James’s lack of “walk-off-shot closing” as an apparent fear of performing on cue, thus opting for passes or long-range shots toward the end of regulation.
Let’s face it: Bryant is a ball hog. While this hasn’t always been looked upon favorably by some, we must admit that he can drive the ball to the hoop when he has possession. His Lakers and their fans don’t have to complain about his initiative. For instance, they were 6-0 in their 2009 championship post-season when Bryant scored 35 plus points per game. This just goes to show that his teammates rely on him to finish what they started. Unfortunately for James and his Heat, they have suffered defeat resulting from James passing to a trusted teammate, such as in Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals.
Bryant doesn’t sport the “Black Mamba” alias (after the venomous snake) for nothing. His opponents and their fans have experienced his potential toxins firsthand courtside. Jordan Crawford, Washington Wizards guard, told Dan LeBatard on “ESPN Radio” that Bryant literally hisses like a snake for the ball. In fact, basketball so completely consumes Bryant’s brain during game time that he remains undaunted by courtside harassment within earshot, such as from comedian Chris Rock. “Don’t tear up because you’ll look like the biggest chump in the world. And don’t trip,” is Bryant’s philosophy about changes as he approaches the 2013 season. James, on the other hand, has not always taken kindly to adversity and has cracked under pressure, which has even been called out by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
Simply put, who has more championship titles? Now that James has two NBA titles at age 28, Bryant still had this Heat beat for three with his Lakers when he was the same age. Bryant now has enough championship rings to fill up one hand, and if his new nickname, “Vino,” supports his prediction that he, like fine wine, will get better with age, James has yet to catch up. Therefore, not only is Bryant a better closer than James in a single game, but also a better closer in a single postseason by taking his team all the way.