Friday, June 12, 2009

Where Does Derek Fisher Rank Among Most Clutch Playoff Shooters in NBA History?

The Orlando Magic was on its way to a 2-2 series tie in the NBA Finals. Then Derek Fisher happened. Down three with seconds to play, Fisher hit a three-pointer over Jameer Nelson to tie the game and ultimately force overtime. Then in OT he hit another huge three to give the Lakers a lead they wouldn't relinquish on their way to a 3-1 series advantage.

Fisher is no stranger to big shots in the playoffs, as he's done it throughout his career. But the question comes to mind: where does he rank among the most clutch playoff shooters in NBA history?

Obviously, the first name that comes to mind is Robert Horry, who had seven NBA title rings because of his clutchness. Horry, throughout his career has hit at least seven clutch playoff shots that led to his team's big wins.

Other names to consider from the last 20 years have to include His Airness, Michael Jordan, who came up huge en route to six NBA titles, and his shot against Utah in 1998 is one of the more iconic images in league history. Not to mention "The Shot" against the Cavaliers.

Of course Reggie Miller hit big shots through his career, but has zero rings to show for it, so that can only take him so far when it comes to consideration for the most clutch shooter in playoff history.

There are plenty of other guys out there who have hit huge shots in the playoffs, and more importantly, the Finals, including John Paxson, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and dare I say, James Posey.

Then there are those two other guys with nicknames synonymous with clutch: "Mr. Clutch," Jerry West, and "Mr. Big Shot," Chauncey Billups.

Also, as a Miami homer, part of me wants to include Dwyane Wade in the discussion, because his 2006 Finals performance was one for the ages. Plus there was his shot against the Hornets in 2004. But I know better than to include him in the conversation for all-time great clutch playoff shooters... yet.

Don't get me wrong now, I wouldn't want to be the team facing Kobe Bryant with the ball in his hands in the last seconds either, but when it comes to playoff (and Finals) clutchness, he hasn't done it for me, either.

So the list of players who have come up big late in playoff games is endless, but in my opinion, none have come up big as often as Horry, Jordan and Fisher, possibly in that order.

So back to the initial question of where Fisher ranks among the most clutch playoff shooters in the NBA: I'm going to go out on a limb here and I'd have to say that he's, at the very least, top five.

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