Is LeBron really a clutch player now?


Is LeBron really a clutch player now?

There is a common belief among basketball fans that LeBron James has turned into a clutch fourth quarter player this season. The numbers would seem to back up that belief. After all, his scoring, rebounding and usage numbers are all up in clutch situations. The NBA defines clutch stats by performance in the final five minutes of close games (score is within 5).

His 15 point fourth quarter game against the Sixers on April 3rd and his 17 point monster close-out effort against the Nets on April 16th support that. Yes, LeBron James is showing up in the fourth quarter and the "75 cents" jokes that our Bulls analyst Kendall Gill loves to make may not be accurate anymore.

However, when it comes to "game on the line" situations, that is, a possession in the final 30 seconds of a game in which the player's team is tied or trailing by 3 points or less, LeBron rarely takes the final shot.

Watch the closing possession for the Heat yesterday against the Knicks, Dwyane Wade takes the final shot and LeBron doesn't even touch the ball. Now, you can't base a belief off one play, but the Heat have had 18 shots this season (including the playoffs) in a "game on the line" situation. Of those 18 shots, LeBron has only taken three of them. Three.

For comparison, Kobe Bryant, who is widely considered the best active "clutch" player in the NBA has taken 15 of the Lakers' 22 shots with the game on the line. Kevin Durant has taken 20 of the Thunder's 26. LeBron just 3 of 18.

You can argue that he is meant to be a decoy, you can argue that he doesn't want the ball in that situation, you can argue that Wade is the better option, but the fact is that when the Heat need a winning shot, LeBron James is normally watching someone else take it. LeBron is not as "clutch" as people think he is.

I'd love to hear your theories on why this happens. Use our comment option at the bottom of the page or tweet me @CSNKevin.

Illini announce athletics hall of fame with Dick Butkus as first member


Illini announce athletics hall of fame with Dick Butkus as first member

Illinois announced Thursday the establishment of a university athletics hall of fame, and who better than Dick Butkus to be the first inductee?

According to the announcement, Illinois has discussed creating an athletics hall of fame to honor past student-athletes for years, but this is the first time it's been acted upon — not necessarily a surprise now that Josh Whitman, a former Illinois football player, is now in charge of the department.

"The University of Illinois has an incredible and storied history in athletics," Whitman said in the announcement. "Legendary names in sports history are found throughout the Illini record books, and we are excited to honor them in our new Hall of Fame. Since the athletic program's inception in 1890, some of the world's greatest athletes have competed in the orange and blue. Ultimately, as we begin to populate the Hall of Fame, our collection of recognized greats will compare favorably with that of any institution in the nation."

Butkus, of course, is the obvious choice to be the first announced member of the hall of fame's inaugural class.

Regarded by many as the best linebacker and defensive football player ever, Butkus spent three seasons in Champaign, twice a unanimous All-American selection. Playing both center and linebacker at Illinois, he finished in the top six in Heisman Trophy voting in 1963 and 1964, a shocking accomplishment for someone playing a position other than quarterback, running back or receiver.

Butkus made 374 tackles in three seasons and is one of just two players — the other being Red Grange — to have his number retired at Illinois. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (thanks to his remarkable career with the Bears), and the annual award for the best linebacker in college football is named after Butkus.

"The University of Illinois has played an extremely important role in my life," Butkus said in the announcement. "I have many life-long relationships that began at the U of I and have always been proud to call myself a Fighting Illini. To be recognized in the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame is a terrific feeling. I'm very proud of what my teams and I accomplished, including the 1963 Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory. Thank you for this honor."

The Illini will announce the entire inaugural class in February, with induction coming next September.

Gustav Forsling out, Corey Crawford starting vs. Devils

Gustav Forsling out, Corey Crawford starting vs. Devils

Gustav Forsling will not travel and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks face the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Forsling, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury sustained against the Calgary Flames on Monday night, did not practice on Thursday. Coach Joel Quenneville is still hopeful that the defenseman can play Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Blackhawks were switching lines again, putting Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together on the top line. Marian Hossa took Kane’s place on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov and Tyler Motte moved to the third line.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

“Yeah, I guess change can be good in this sense. We can probably produce a little bit more offense and have the puck a little bit more throughout the game,” Kane said. “I’ve played with Jonny a bunch before. Obviously, not as much lately. But I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a fun way to play hockey. Obviously he’s one of the best players in the game, and probably in my mind the easiest player to play with. It’ll be fun to get back out there with him and try to create something, try to produce and have some fun with it.”

Meanwhile, forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) continues to improve. Quenneville said Desjardins could be skating in the next day or so.