15 Most Clutch Athletes In Sports Today

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The 15 Most Clutch Athletes Today

The Top 15 Most Clutch Athletes In Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

We love a lot of things about our sports, but one of the things we love most about them is when the game, or the season itself, gets into crunch time. We even have a great word for what it means to come up big when it matters the most: clutch.

Clutch can be a tough thing to define, but any fan knows it when they see it. It’s that player that always seems to make the key play when their team needs them the most. And some players have a knack for coming up big in those moments.

The guys on this list save their best for the big stage -- for when the game is on the line. When their team needs them the most, that’s when they deliver. These are the kind of guys who crave the bright lights, and it seems to fuel them. These are the players that you want on your team when it’s all on the line. They’ve all proven over time that they will deliver in those spots.

A big part of being clutch is having postseason success. Being clutch doesn’t just mean coming up big in the fourth quarter; it means coming up big consistently in the playoffs. All of the North American major sports revolve around the playoffs. The regular season is just an exercise in qualifying for the games that matter, and these are the players that come up big in the games that matter.

These are the 15 most clutch athletes in sports today.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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15. Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dirk Nowitzki elevated his game and led the Dallas Mavericks to an improbable championship run in 2011.

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14. Eli Manning

Eli Manning
John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Eli Manning may not be good, but he sure is clutch. He has elevated his game when it matters most twice in his career now and led his team to Super Bowl wins.

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13. Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Former Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas saved his best for the playoffs. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2011 while posting a .940 save percentage and four shutouts, leading the Bruins to a Stanley Cup.

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12. Dwayne Wade

Dwayne Wade
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A three-time NBA champion, Dwayne Wade has brought his best game when in the playoffs. In 2006, he put the Miami Heat on his back and carried them to the title, and he's been the best second option in the league in the last two years.

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11. Patrick Kane

Patrick Kane
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

One of the games best young players, Patrick Kane stepped up big time in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He racked up 19 points for the Chicago Blackhawks on the way to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.

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10. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Already with one Super Bowl championship under his belt and possibly on his way to more, Aaron Rodgers broke out as an elite playoff quarterback in 2011.

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9. Adam Vinatieri

Adam Vinatieri
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Vinatieri has made some of the most pressure-packed kicks in NFL history. He's won two Super Bowls on field goals, and made one of the most difficult kicks in playoff history in the driving snow to put the Tuck Game into overtime.

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8. Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Hockey's best young player, Sidney Crosby has shown that he can deliver when it matters the most. He's already won a Stanley Cup in the NHL and scored a game-winning overtime goal to win his country a Gold Medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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7. Lebron James

Lebron James
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when we could make jokes about Lebron James chocking in the big moment? Well, not anymore. Now James is a two-time NBA champion and on his way to more titles.

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6. Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the fact that he's technically retired, I just couldn't leave Mariano Rivera off this list. He's the best closer in history, and right up there with the best postseason pitchers of all time.

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5. Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most decorated winners in all of sports, Tim Duncan was always at his best in crunch time. He has led the San Antonio Spurs to four titles, being named the Finals MVP three times.

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4. Tom Brady

Tom Brady
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady has won three Super Bowls in five appearances and has the most playoff wins of any quarterback in NFL history. The New England Patriots dynasty started when Brady became the starting quarterback, and it will end when he leaves.

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3. Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Jeter always seems to elevate his game when the stage gets bigger.

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2. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best fourth-quarter scorers in the history of basketball, Kobe Bryant has made an art form out of hitting big shots when his team needs them the most.

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1. David Ortiz

David Ortiz
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

After putting the Boston Red Sox on his back and leading them to a third championship in the last 10 years, David Ortiz has cemented himself as the most clutch athlete in sports.