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What Constitutes a Batman versus a Robin?

A lot has been made about what constitutes a “Batman” versus a “Robin” amongst the basketball writers of BackSportsPage and outside sources such as ESPN. Throughout the course of an NBA game, the offense is usually run through the “Batman”, making them the go-to guy, while the “Robin” plays second fiddle. However, in the 4th quarter, particularly in the last 5 minutes, there are cases in which the “Robin” becomes the go-to guy in the clutch. 


In recent games before his knee injury, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been knocked for not being a go-guy in the clutch by analysts such as Kendrick Perkins. Perkins said in a tweet, “Khris Middleton probably played his most complete game of this postseason! Almost messed around and got a triple double. He finished with a casual 26-13-8 and shot 50% from the field…seem like Batman type numbers to me. Carry the hell on…”


Although the film proves that Khris Middleton is in fact the Milwaukee Bucks’ go-to guy in the clutch, the numbers actually favor Giannis Antentokounmpo. Antetokounmpo averages 4.8 clutch points while Middleton averages 4.2 clutch points in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. That being said, Middleton is a more ideal option as the Bucks’ go-to guy in the clutch.


Antetokounmpo admitted, “I want to be a winner. I have the whole game to be ‘the guy.’ I don’t care about being the guy in the fourth quarter. I trust Khris to death. If Khris asks for the ball, better give him the ball.” You can’t knock a guy for knowing his limits. Not every #1 option has to be Michael Jordan and basketball fans should be okay with that.


A once in a generation player such as LeBron James has been knocked by many members of the media such as Skip Bayless for “not being clutch” just because he doesn’t always take the last shot. In an Instagram post made in 2015 former NBA player Gilbert Arenas said, “James isn’t a #1 option..and yes I (didn’t stutter) he lacks #selfishness so he will always need a go to guy like wade was or kyrie.. he lacks what jordan and kobe were..great 1 on 1 players… he needs a pure scorer beside him so he can carry the TEAM load…he gets bashed a lot by media becuz he doesn’t take over like #MJ or #KB but #LBJ is MAGIC with Jordan like athleticism.”


Arenas later clarified on his podcast, The No Chill Podcast that James is a go-to guy in the first three quarters of the game and then he defers to his teammates (i.e. Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving). 


In Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals, a game in which James had 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists, many members of the media criticized him for passing up a potential game winning shot with four Heat players within the vicinity and instead passing to a wide open Danny Green. A rational basketball mind would realize that James made the right read but the play just didn’t work out. Had Green made the shot, the narrative would be different. Either way, the Lakers ended up closing the series in six games.


Other examples of duos in which this dynamic occurs consist of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant as well Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray during their run to the Western Conference Finals in 2020.


Overall, a go-to guy isn’t necessarily a go-to guy in the clutch. That being said, that shouldn’t be a knock on players such as LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. If anything these players should be applauded for their self-awareness and knowing their personnel.

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