Perception, is an extremely powerful thing.
There are some people who say it comes very close to reality in terms of importance, but one thing I will say is what people think is true is generally what they choose to believe. Even if it may not necessarily be the case.
That’s kind of how I feel about the anonymous player poll done by ESPN The Magazine, in which they asked current NBA players who would they want taking the last shot out of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James.
Asked which player they wanted to take the last shot with the clock winding down and a game on the line, 88% of the players picked Jordan, with Bryant getting the other 12%.
“That’s like ranking the shortest giant,” an Eastern Conference guard said. “I’d want the ball in LeBron’s hands at the end of the game, but I’d want him to pass to Kobe or Jordan for the last shot. And don’t forget, LeBron is not a great free throw shooter, either.”
ESPN does point out however, that LeBron is actually better than Kobe in clutch situations.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, James actually is a better shooter from the field than Bryant on game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime of post-season games. He checks in at 41.2% (7-for-17), while Bryant is at 25% (7-for-28). Jordan rules that stat, though, at 50% (9-for-18).
Yet you wonder why no players at all chose LeBron? Perception.
For a time, LeBron was thought to lack the killer instinct that many readily say only Kobe and Jordan have. So even though LeBron is actually statistically better than Kobe in these situations, the perceived killer instinct in Kobe (or lack thereof) in LeBron probably led them to go with Bryant.
Who would I take if I had to choose? I might catch some slander for this, but give me the Black Mamba every time.