Pretend for a second that you are an alien. Okay, well, I know you are one already, but still. Let’s say you know nothing about earthly, modern American culture and its accompanying sporting traditions. How would I explain the usage of the word “clutch” to you? Your thorough study of English language dictionaries has not impressed upon you the great weight this word takes on when it is said in the presence of basketballs. So to you, Mr. or Mrs. Alien, I say: These are the NBA men who have taken pressure-packed situations right on the chin and gotten right back up; they have best performed under its bright and sweat-producing lights.
This is the listicle for the ballers who best fulfill the most cinematic dreams we have about this sport.
10. Sam Jones
Remember when the Boston Celtics won 11 championships in 13 years? Probably not, Dime Mag readers are mostly younger than that, but that’s why we’re about to tell you about Sam Jones. Jones was the linchpin behind Bob Cousy and Bill Russell, the original Celtic greats, who was often relied upon for big shots in sweltering championship moments throughout the 1960s. Well before basketball had developed a more nuanced language of its own, Jones was simply-but-aptly called “The Shooter” throughout the sport for his steely touch when the clock was winding down on a close game. For all his use of the backboard — which was not yet uncool, and still shouldn’t be! — he might today be dubbed “Coldwell Banker.” Just watch him deposit all these checks.
9. Ray Allen
As someone whose fandom has been on the receiving end of this man’s deep-shooting daggers too many times, I can confirm that the word “fearsome” was invented to describe Ray Allen’s presence late in important games. No game ever felt safely in hand so long as Allen was around to snatch it away with his unconscious shooting. His Game 6 gut punch was the drug the Miami Heat needed to overtake the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals, one of the most memorable title rounds of all time. You’ve seen it before, but now you’re going to watch it again.