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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Basketball 101 With Rick Barry

Hall of Famer Rick Barry just appeared for a segment on "NBA TV Insiders" and offered some insights about his playing career and this year's NBA Finals. Here are some of his comments:

--If he could coach only one game in the NBA, he would love to coach against Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat. If a fast break was not available, Barry would instruct his team to run a pick and roll involving O'Neal's man every time down the court. On the weak side, he would have the players setting screens as well. This plan of attack would force O'Neal to show on the pick and roll, which is the weakest part of his game (other than free throws; keep reading for Barry's thoughts about that). The guard would get an open shot every time and, even if he missed, the players on the weak side and the big man setting the screen would have offensive rebounding opportunities. Barry said that the Mavericks blew game three by getting away from pushing the ball and running pick and rolls; of course, that point is familiar to 20 Second Timeout readers.

--Barry started shooting free throws underhanded as a youngster just to get his dad off of his back. He was teased a little bit about the form, but didn't care because it helped him to score more points. Later on, Barry refined the technique and that was when he started shooting over 90% from the free throw line. Barry offered to teach the underhanded free throw technique to Shaq, but Shaq said that he is from the hip-hop generation and could not be seen shooting free throws underhanded. Barry said that Shaq's attitude about this is terrible and that helping your team win is more important than worrying about how you look. Barry said that he does not understand how anyone who shoots less than 80% from the free throw line can live with himself and that it is sad to see a dominant player like Shaq sometimes relegated to the bench at the end of games because of his poor free throw shooting.

--Barry is "in awe" of the athletic abilities of the current generation of NBA players but rues that most of them do not understand how to play in a way to maximize their natural gifts. Barry said that he received a great foundation in the fundamentals of the game from his father, who played semi-pro ball; with a strong foundation you can build a tall skyscraper, but if the foundation is poor then the building will collapse.

--No current NBA team runs the pick and roll as effectively as it can be run. Barry said that screens are set at poor angles; when he played, he wanted the screen to be set from an angle that would allow him to drive to the hoop. Also, before the screen is set, the player with the ball should not use his dribble or establish a pivot foot. That way, the offensive player maximizes his options. Barry declared that even Stockton and Malone did not run the pick and roll to maximum effectiveness.

--Barry can't stand it when offensive players hold the ball over their heads with two hands, telegraphing that they plan to make a pass; they should hold the ball in triple threat position and always pose a threat to shoot, pass or drive. Even if they know from the start that they are going to pass, by keeping the ball in triple threat position they will place defenders on their heels and open up a bigger passing lane. Barry provided some narration over highlights from his career, pointing out that he played very aggressively on offense and attacked the defense. When he came off of a screen with his defender trailing he was ready to shoot; if a teammate was open and had a better shot, then Barry was ready and willing to deliver the pass.

posted by David Friedman @ 7:33 PM


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At Friday, June 16, 2006 8:48:00 AM, Blogger illest said...

Very well said by Rick Barry, one of my favorite players that I didnt see play. Very brutally honest and I loved it when he was a color commentator. Its a shame that he cant get an NBA job.

Yeah I remember when Shaquille said he was too hiphop, which is stupid to say. I also know that George Johnson, who shot free-throws badly and played with Rick on the Warriors championship team, tried the underhand way and improved 10 percent from yrs 73-75. After that he continued to increase. (I'm not sure how long he used the technique)

The triple-threat position: so fundamental but these young kids have no idea how much better their game would be if they would use it.


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