Hero ball*

*Or how NBA teams fail by giving the ball to money players in crunch time

Updated: August 13, 2012, 8:20 PM ET
By Henry Abbott | ESPN The Magazine

WITH THREE MINUTES LEFT on a frigid February night in Philadelphia, the Lakers had the ball, a two-point lead and, if history means anything, a certain road win. Some 76ers diehards explored halfhearted "Beat LA" chants. But none did so with the glee you'd expect, considering that the man with the ball was Kobe Bryant, the suburban Philly native who once said of Sixers fans that he wanted to "cut their hearts out." The NBA's most celebrated closer was scrubbed in for the ...

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