A finisher. A closer. A turn-out-the-lights-and-lets-go-homer.
Different people call it different things, but every team needs at least one player who can take a tight game and make it his own, ensuring a victory.
The Charlotte Bobcats hope they now employ such a player in shooting guard Ben Gordon, who can score points in bunches and will have to on a team that had the worst offense in the NBA last season.
Closing a game is tricky. You can pay a player millions and theres still no guarantee he can do it. Stephen Jackson and Raymond Felton could do it occasionally. Gerald Wallace could not. LeBron James once was unable to do it regularly but now does it spectacularly well.
The San Francisco Giants had a closer and they won the World Series. The Carolina Panthers dont have one now, although Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith once used to do the job together.
Cam Newton has not found that magic yet, and the Panthers are 1-10 in games decided by seven points or fewer in the past two seasons.
The Bobcats didnt have a closer last season, which helps explain why they limped to the lowest winning percentage in NBA history (although by the end, there was nothing to finish for the Bobcats, since they always seemed to be down by 20).
Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said Tuesday: The thing I know about Ben is that hes a closer of games. He has that reputation.
Gordon said of closing: Thats something Ive done throughout my career and something Im still capable. So hopefully Ill be used in that capacity.
He will be. Dunlap plans to use Gordon as the Bobcats sixth man beginning Friday night, when Charlotte will open the regular season at home against a very good Indiana team. Gordon will be on the floor a lot in the fourth quarter, when the Bobcats need his finishing skill the most.
Gordon, 29, came to Charlotte from Detroit in June in the Corey Maggette trade. He is a career 40 percent shooter from the 3-point line, has averaged 16.5 points over an eight-year NBA career and scored 45 in one game last season. He knows what hes walking into.
Detroit was still in that rebuilding stage when I was there, and here I am in another rebuilding stage, Gordon said.
His best success came in Chicago, where he played his first five NBA seasons and made the playoffs in four of them.
Originally picked No.3 overall by the Bulls in the 2004 NBA draft, Gordon was named the NBAs best sixth man as a rookie and twice averaged more than 20 points for good Chicago squads.
When I asked him to describe his attributes, Gordon said: Im a guy who can get hot. Dangerous 3-point shooter. I like to play in transition. Like to shoot a lot of 3s. Im one of those guys who, if I get on a streak, I can run off double-digit points in a quarter.
But more so I want to try and score steadily throughout the game and be a reliable offensive piece for the team.
After losing their final 23 games last season, the Bobcats have rebooted. Owner Michael Jordan talked to the players Monday.
I thought he had a good message, Gordon said. He just said hes behind coach Dunlap and the staff and the things they are trying to teach. A lot of stuff were doing now is really fundamental, kind of the basics.
MJ just harped on the fact that he hadnt seen that in previous years the simple fundamental things that enable teams to be good teams.
One of those fundamentals? Closing out a winnable game.
As a player, Jordan did it better than anyone ever has. The Bobcats have rarely been able to do it since he has been the teams majority owner, however.
With Gordon, at least they will have a chance.