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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More on Shaq's Free Throw Shooting

One of my longtime readers believes that I am too harsh on Shaq in general; he also feels that my recent post quoting Shaq's negative comments about Rick Barry is an unfair shot at the Diesel. Normally I would address this in the comments section beneath the post, but I have noticed that posting links in the comments section does not work real well. So, here are a few links to articles discussing Shaq's free throw shooting, his attitude toward improving the weakest part of his game and the disrespect that he showed not only to Barry but also to the venerable Tex Winter. It is very telling that the Shaq-Winter situation never received much attention but that Kobe is often referred to as "uncoachable"--and it tells us a lot more about media coverage than it does about Shaq or Kobe. Phil Jackson mentioned the Shaq-Winter incident in one of his books but pretty much brushed it over to focus on bashing Kobe. Of course, the mainstream media deserves a lot of criticism for completely ignoring this issue and perpetuating the myth that Shaq has such great respect for his coaches (see the third link below for details). Anyone who believes that Shaq's comments to Steven A. Smith about Barry were either meant to be jocular or are actually amusing is sorely mistaken on both counts. I welcome reader comments about whether my original post on this subject seems unfair in light of this additional information.

Shaquille O'Neal's Free Throw Saga

Shaq Should Shoot Underhand (video from Rick Barry's fantasy camp, with Barry talking about free throw shooting)

Who's Not on Tex's All-Winter Team for the NBA's 60th Anniversary

posted by David Friedman @ 3:20 PM


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At Thursday, October 05, 2006 9:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Rick Barry is brutal. Not saying Shaq is write or anything, but Barry is just ruthless: "What do you mean you tried that? Who's teaching him, you?"

At Friday, October 06, 2006 6:14:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

No doubt, Barry is blunt and can rub people the wrong way but the point he was making is simple and correct: he has spent a lot of time perfecting the underhanded free throw shooting technique and is better qualified to teach it than anyone else.

What Barry advocates is not what is commonly referred to as shooting "granny-style," although it might look like it superficially. Barry has a specific way that he grips the ball, locks his wrists and releases the ball in one smooth motion. All good free throw shooters have a method that they use each time and limit wasted motion (Gus Alfieri talked about this when I interviewed him). Barry believes that the way he teaches the underhanded style minimizes wasted motion and is easy to learn. Of course, it would not work on field goal attempts because it would be too easy to block, but his career free throw percentage speaks for how well it works from the charity stripe.


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