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Does this look like an easy shot to you? If you are one of the many essentially vilifying (or thanking) Orlando Magic guard Courtney Lee for missing a game-winning layup, then perhaps it does. Conversely, there’s been an uprising of folks — not limited to the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi either — who have taken up the cause for Lee by defending his last-second attempt. Speaking of Bianchi, here’s what he thinks:

Repeat after me: Courtney Lee did not choke away Game 2 against the Lakers. He is not a choker.

Not even close.

He missed a relatively tough shot; he did not commit a choke.

Again, look at the picture. Why is it safe to assume that shot was easily makeable when most of Lee’s body is under the backboard? Here’s another opinion, this time from Bill Simmons:

We will remember Lee’s miss for swinging the Finals and the “What if?” potential. But anyone who says that was an easy layup has obviously never played basketball. Ever.

Do me a favor: Go to a playground with a buddy, bring a 7-foot guy with you, stand at midcourt, then sprint toward the basket, have a buddy throw a lob pass that you’ll catch as you’re passing under the backboard, then have the 7-foot guy jump at you and grab the rim for good measure. Try this 100 times and see how many you make [it].

Does this mean Lee is off the hook for missing such a crucial shot? Yes and no. Now that the difficulty has been established — no, that attempt was not the same as bricking four free throws — it doesn’t mean Lee is totally in the clear. He gets paid to make shots like that, regardless if Gasol grabbed the rim or not. Was it a tough shot? Yep. Unmakeable tough? No sir.

Perhaps it’s my affection for Western Kentucky that’s making me stand up for Lee, but I’m just not convinced he deserves to be labeled as Nick Anderson, Part II. Perhaps folks wanted to see the Lakers lose so badly, they had no choice but to project those feelings of disappointment towards Lee. He does present an easy target, considering how much more thought goes into figuring out which one of Orlando’s 20 turnovers hurt the most.