Rant on the “guts” to take the last shot

You ever hear really older basketball players talk?  They often mention this as an attribute

“He had the (guts/courage/”he wasn’t afraid”) to take the last shot”.

In Bill Simmons Book of Basketball this so-called attribute is mentioned several times by players from the 1960s when describing other players from the 1960s that they happen to have liked. Particularly mentioned “gutsy” players were John Havlicek and Jerry West.  (It also begs the question, “Were there a ton of guys in the 1960s who were chicken?”)

Anyway, it drives me nuts when people say that.  The so called “attribute” of wanting to take a last second shot is so frickin’ bogus I want to puke.  I hate it.  And so I’m wasting a post to rant about it.

Here’s my argument.  Name me one stinkin’ time in basketball history that a basketball player has gone down in infamy for missing a final shot?  Just one instance.

I cannot think of a single one, outside of Happy Days, when Richie Cunningham missed the potential game winning shot and he hung around the gym a ridiculously long time (the lights were out) in order to set up a contrived scene where Howard Cunningham bestows some life lesson on him. (it all was made worse, of course, by the fact that he committed the sin of arrogance after he sank a lucky shot to win an earlier game and was the temporary hero of Milwaukee’s fictional Jefferson High)

That’s the only frickin one I can recall.  EVER.  In my life.  In my own playing days.  In conversation.  EVER.

Thus I conclude that those who constantly want to hoist up last second shots, no matter the degree of difficulty or the existence of other better scoring opportunities open to their teammates, I conclude those players are just regular old glory hounds.

What downside is there in taking a last second shot?  No one remembers if you missed.  They only remember the great makes, and this one was the greatest I’ve ever seenever.  (if you click on the link, watch for his move at halfcourt, you almost can’t see it because of the clock display, but its an unbelievable behind the back dribble in a crowd at full speed, and notice his subtle but spectacular crossover dribble in the lane… what a fucking play).

There is only upside in attempting a last shot… the glory of Sportscenter and being carried off the court and becoming a flawed heroic figure like Richie Cunningham.

So don’t tell me a guy was great because he took last second shots.  Show me a guy who constantly has to take  his team’s last shot no matter what and I will show you a gunner.  Larry Bird excluded 🙂

FOOTNOTE:  I just thought of one tragic instance of a missed last shot, but its relative non-importance makes my point.  I’m thinking of Glenn Robinson’s miss against Philly in the Eastern Conference Finals.

That really turned us around on G Rob didn’t it?  Wow, people never stopped talking about that one, hey?  I mean, it only took me twenty minutes to remember it, and I think its like 67th on my list of major beefs with The Big Dog’s play in Milwaukee.

One Response to “Rant on the “guts” to take the last shot”

  1. Blake Says:

    I remember Ewing missing that easy layup vs Miller and the Pacers. :]

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