If you’ve seen Travis Outlaw play over the course of the last two seasons, you know he’s never afraid to take the big shot, or any shot for that matter. And in his opinion, there are very few attempts that he would consider a “bad shot.”
“Not be bragging on myself,” says Outlaw in a slightly joking tone, “but I feel like a guy is with me until I jump. Don’t get me wrong, I done got my shot blocked a couple of times, but when I’m really going hard and I’m elevating, I don’t feel like I got a bad shot, you know what I’m saying? As long as I can see the rim.”
But it hasn’t always been that way for Outlaw. There was a time when he would shy away from taking the shot in pressure situations, but oddly enough, a miss in one of those situations would end up changing his approach to game-winners.
“That Phoenix game when I missed that layup, the game winning layup, it hurt me kind of bad,” said Outlaw of layin he missed back on Feb. 27, 2007. “It was kind of like, ‘Damn, you missed a layup?’ Ever since then, I ain’t never been afraid to take it because I always feel like I need to make up for that loss.”
That failure, which still motivates Outlaw to this day, is the reason why he was willing to take, and miss, the potential game-tying shot versus the Rockets in Game 4 when others might have passed to someone else. It might not have been the best shot and it certainly opened Outlaw up for a fair amount of criticism, but that’s a part of who he is as a player. As Brandon Roy says, that’s just Trav being Trav.
“I kind of learned that it’s hip-hip hooray when you hit a shot,” said Outlaw. “And then some shots people say we could have got something better. It’s never going to be perfect.”
“We play an imperfect game. If I would have hit the three it would have been the perfect shot, the perfect play. If went in, they don’t care how it looked. That’s kind of how I look at things.”
Outlaw’s willingness to take those shots is probably the reason he’s one of the most polarizing players on the team. Some fans love his fearlessness in big game situations, while others hate what they perceive as poor decision-making or low basketball IQ.
But Outlaw isn’t going to change. He’s going to keep taking big shots because he’s not afraid of putting his name out on the line for praise or scorn.
“If you’re going to do something, you’ve got to do it hard,” said Outlaw. “There’s no easy way out on it. You can’t shortcut nothing. You’ve just got to go out there, play hard, go hard, and if you mess up, mess up going hard.”