Maybe he ruined the game

by Andrew Kennedy

This is a study I conducted where I inserted microchips into the heads of 50 NBA players to determine how they truly felt and reacted when their opponents made tough shots and they were the primary defender. Just kidding but I wish I could do some science on this because I think it plays a huge role in this league.

This is something I always notice in the NBA and it goes against what the stat geeks say. When star players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant hit really tough shots that become highlights on SportsCenter and essentially make their defender look bad, those buckets seem to be worth more than just two or three points. Let’s call them demoralizing buckets and they seem to really get into the psyche of the victims.

Now, I can’t spout off a million stats to back this theory up, I’m going off my eyes and what I see to be a trend. I have noticed this a lot with the Miami Heat, when there are games when Wade and LeBron are hitting really tough shots that in actuality are only worth two points but it seems to really affect the defenders and suck away their confidence. This is probably a natural reaction to such a situation but these guys are professional basketball players and I would think they should all be used to something like this.

It’s something that you will never see in a basketball video game although it has been attempted to be captured with features such as momentum. But in a video game, there are always more dunks and crazy shots going in but it does not matter because the digital guys aren’t thinking as they run down the court and they don’t take it personal.

When LeBron or Kobe hits a long, fadeaway two-pointer and you have a hand in their face, you should feel good about yourself afterward. You played perfect defense and forced a horrible shot from your opponent that they will probably make only 10 percent of the time. Instead it seems like most guys now think they can’t guard LeBron or Kobe, even though they may have just done a great job. It gets in their head and the opposite set of confidence is in Kobe or LeBron’s head.

This is the aspect of the game that isn’t captured by statistics or advanced statistics. Guys like Henry Abbot and John Hollinger want teams to run their offense more to get good looks late in games and want Kobe to pass to an open Derek Fisher for a shot rather than fading away for a 20-footer. But Michael Jordan ruined the game and now everyone tries to emulate on the regular the spectacles he produced from years ago.

While the advanced stat guys will kill Kobe for taking these shots it seems almost to be a part of what it takes to be a champion in this league now. I mean Kobe took more bad shots than anyone the last two years and it resulted in two titles. Memphis didn’t have a guy to take bad shots and now they are eliminated despite maybe being a more balanced and all-around team than Oklahoma City. It seems to be part of the winning formula because NBA players are people who have feelings and not just statistics.

Miami has two guys, Wade more than LeBron, that will take bad shots and occasionally make them. I think this is a huge advantage that they have over Chicago. It hasn’t happened too much yet in the series but imagine once Wade is “feeling it” in the next game or two and suddenly the Chicago defense starts panicking to try and guard him when in actuality they may already be doing a good job. Advantage Miami and it’s a big one.

So am I saying that the two percent of Miami’s made field goals which I would classify as demoralizing shots can swing a title this year? That just because Wade and James may make eight shots over the rest of this series that “seem unfair” that it may propel them to advance to the Finals? I think it will play a role and maybe too big of one than it should.

If only guys like Hollinger and Abbot were five inches taller and super athletic, Chicago could throw them out there on Wade and James and they’d constantly be yelling “I’ll give you that!” and “Our team can live with that!” whenever they took those shots and possibly reverse the great effect that “trying to be like MJ” has had on the game.