Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is expected to eventually be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in large part due to his heroics in the clutch, with a career full of game-winners and icy-veined late shots as he led the team to five championships in his 20-year career.
All of those shots held varying degrees of importance for the Lakers and Bryant, with some helping the team win regular-season games that were relatively meaningless in the grand scheme of things, to postseason buzzer-beaters that showed how sure-handed Bryant was under true pressure.
Important as the heroics may seem, none of them came with someone’s life on the line. But given Bryant’s reliability in late-game situations, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss tweeted that if her life were ever hanging in the balance of a clutch free throw, Bryant is the man she’d call:
Easiest question from @World_Wide_Wob was “If it was a life or death situation and a free throw was on the line which current or former NBA player would I choose to take it for me?” Answer: @kobebryant – I would trust him with my life!! Who would you choose?
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) January 26, 2018
There would be far worse choices for Buss than Bryant, a career 83.7 percent free-throw shooter who always seemed to be automatic at the line late in games.
Presumably ranking around last on Buss’ theoretical list of players to make a free throw as her life hangs in the balance is probably Bryant’s partner for three of his titles, Shaquille O’Neal, a career 52.7 percent free-throw shooter, but not far above him would likely be the Lakers’ current team.
The 2017-18 Lakers rank last in the league in free-throw percentage (68.5 percent) and have started turning towards unorthodox methods like meditation to fix the issue.
They could probably learn a thing or two from Bryant’s poise under pressure, but until then, if aliens land and force Buss to choose one player to hit a free-throw to save her life, she’s probably better off sticking with Bryant.
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