It seems like a fairly simple concept: you get to shoot the ball without anyone playing defense. Sounds easy, right?
Well, the simple answer is no. Only a handful of NBA and college players surpass the 90% free throws made clip each year.
I feel as though free throws are taken for granted these days in basketball. Too many teams are shooting a horrendous percentage from the charity stripe (See Memphis Tigers), in some cases costing them ballgames.
I will attempt to run down the Top five, NBA and college combined, free-throw shooters in history, in order to remind people about the value of the free throw.
5) Rick Barry
Barry holds the second-best NBA career free-throw shooting percentage at 90%. His unconventional underhand toss is a wonder to see in action. Barry shot over 4,000 free throws, so his 90% truly speaks volumes.
4) Reggie Miller
Reggie was my idol growing up. Yes, more than MJ. In the prime of his career, when Miller toed the line, he was "Mr. Automatic".
Shooting a career 88.6%, good for sixth-best all-time, Miller was widely-known for his free-throw shooting ability. After all, he shot 6,758 free throws, over 2,000 more than his nearest competitor.
3) Mark Price
Price was the NBA's all-time free throw percentage leader at 90.4%. His sweet stroke and uncanny ability to repeat his shot allowed him to set such a mark. Not only could he shoot free throws, he holds the Cavs career record for assists.
2) JJ Redick
As well-known as Redick is for his skills as a sharpshooter, he's made his biggest mark at the free-throw line.
JJ holds the ACC career percentage at 93.8%. The most remarkable part of Redick's free-throws was that for the majority of his attempts, he was heckled by out of control fans wherever he went.
TV announcers would frequently mention his streak at the time, which would usually be in between an incredible 30-50 consecutive free throws made.
1) Blake Ahearn
Yeah, you're probably wondering, "Who?!" If you haven't heard enough about Ahearn already, you'll just have to sit and read more.
In fact, in the ESPN broadcasts of Missouri State, it wasn't unusual for the commentators to talk more about Ahearn and free throws, than about the game itself.
The words free-throw and Blake Ahearn are synonymous. He holds the all-time career and single season NCAA record with 94.7% and 97.5%, respectively.
Anyone who knows him, or as seen him play, will tell you that it is an absolute treat to watch him shoot free throws. Not to mention, he shot 96% from the stripe in his Rookie of the Year-award winning NBDL season in 2007-2008.
Click here to see:
Rick Barry- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdE-RCpLBcM
Click here to see how not to shoot a free-throw:
Chuck Hayes- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wQq9YWZ568