DIME interviewed a sports psychologist, former high school, college, and professional players, and the reigning WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year and asked them all the same question: What happens when the Last Shot goes wrong?
It was the most pressure I had ever felt on a basketball court. The noises in the gymnasium blended together into a sort of static dread. The sweat on my forehead suddenly felt cold. I could feel my heart slapping against the inside of my rib cage. I took a deep breath, stepped to the free throw line, and the ref handed me my chance to be a hero.
Hollywood teaches us that the Last Shot always goes in. Jimmy Chitwood beating the buzzer in Hoosiers; Wesley and Woody converting the alley-oop in White Men Can’t Jump; Even Michael Jordan stretching his arm across the court to drop in a final bucket in Space Jam. Commercials celebrate clutch. Shoe companies market clutch.
Magic’s baby hook.
Jordan over Ehlo.
Robert Horry’s daggers.
We remember clutch.
Worse yet, I think, we expect clutch. And if the final shot happens to bounce out, how are we supposed to react? There is no template for failure.