NBA's Best: The Next Top 10 All-Time Free Throw Shooting Routines
Although Andrei "Young Navratilova" Kirilenko isn't on my all-time list, his steely-eyed focus and determination are the hallmarks of nearly all free throw shooting methods.
In the following rankings you will find all the touching tributes, quirky mechanics and possible O.C.D-related symptoms that have endeared so many fans to the unique styles of these NBA standouts.
So without further ado, here's another of the 10 best free throw shooting technique's of all-time, with much input given by reader's comments.
No. 10: Ugly!
Anyone who saw center Bill Cartwright play with the Knicks, Bulls and, finally, the transplanted Supersonics during the 80s and mid-90s saw something rather rare in the NBA: a truly ugly free throw shot!
It wasn't that Cartwright was a bad shooter—he nailed 77% for his career—but the look of his outstretched arms coupled with a strangely contorted coconut-cradling release left many fans snickering at this pro's form.
Luckily for the man-in-the-middle he joined up with a Chicago Bulls franchise which notched a three-peat and undoubtedly had MJ letting Cartwright know that although it's ugly, it better go in!
No. 9: Broken Wrist?
Prior to this story I wasn't privy to forward Chuck Hayes skills, or better put, lack of. After a couple viewings later I came to realize the full extent of the damage.
Here's another player who's on this list for his on-the-line antics which range from falling forward over the line, to shooting some strange step-back fadeaway. But the real issue is in his release which in it's quirky, jittery hesitation makes Hayes' shot look like Anthony Mason loaded up on Four Loco's.
Yeah, the guy's improved considerably this year with a 74% average—he's 60% for his career—but seriously, half of those have to be luck. The other half? It's all in the twitch.
No. 8: Drop It Low!
Jerry Stackhouse is a solid player, a go-to-guy that's challenged Jordan, put up solid 20-plus average scoring seasons, and sat down opponents and himself.
Where did he sit? Well apparently right on the free throw line. Okay, he really just squatted low, real low, on his free shot, a tendency he picked up as an All-American at North Carolina. But the balance and confidence Stackhouse had in his routine garnered him an 82% average for his career, including several solid yet injury plagued seasons with .870-plus accuracy at the stripe.
And I'm sure he had no problem teaching his kids how to use the potty.
No. 7: Wristband Routine
Wiping his sweatbands repeatedly across his chin, his forehead, chin again maybe and forehead, and then dribbling a few times before launching, Alonzo Mourning spent nearly as much time on the line as Karl Malone.
'Zo was a semi-decent shooter for his career, sporting a 69-percent average, but his formula may have needed some tweaking considering his free throw average went down as his career progressed.
Also, it's incalculable the amount of rug-burn he sustained on his forehead from high free throw attempts games.
No. 6: Point Made
Many people who watched the Knicks and Pacers in the 80s and 90s have to have the Mark Jackson image. The one where he stands at the line puts his right index finger to his mouth, and, apparently in a basketball homage to Babe Ruth, points to the rim to aim the direction of his shot: right in the bottom of the net.
Utilizing the same technique even in big playoff games, Jackson sank his share of teams from the line in the clutch.
He nailed about 77 percent of his frees over the course of his 17-year career, and although his legend didn't quite reach Bambino-status, hitting a respectable eight out of 10 a night is something worth pointing out.
No. 5: The Ladel
By the time Adrian Dantley retired he was ninth on the all-time scoring list and was known as a rugged, thoroughly prepared player whose game lie in the details.
Nowhere was this more evident than in his free throw shooting.
Dantley, with thick wristbands on, would hold the ball in his left hand and extend right arm out in front and in a soup-ladel motion cup the ball and spin it up fast right into his far flung-back shooting release. With several seasons busting 80-to-85-percent from the foul line it was hard to beat the technique.
And now, after being enshrined in Springfield in 2008, his singular style has been immortalized.
No. 4: High Arc
Robert Parish was the literal centerpiece of the greatest frontline ever, and his shot-blocking prowess saw many balls sail straight up off the court, though they probably didn't fly nearly as high as the Chief's own free throw attempts.
Hailing from tiny Centenary College of Louisiana, Parish's shot had one of the highest arcs ever seen in the NBA as well as a strange cupped release that looked like Dr. J meets Adrian Dantley (check out the tapes).
Of course the Chief knocked down his freebies to the tune of decent-for-a-center .721 average, and won three title with the Celts while he was at it.
No. 3: Hair-Raising
Bar none Steve Nash is one of greatest point guards of all-time and, until recently, was known for licking his fingertips and pushing his brown locks back over his ear before knocking down charity shots at 90.3-percent clip—only the Cavaliers' Mark Price was better.
Nash has such a solid, confident release he probably could've made just as many over the years without his trademark brush-back, and actually proved it in '06 when he gave himself a buzz-cut then proceeded to knockdown a then career-best 92.1-percent of his FT-attempts.
No. 2: The Tribute
Bo Kimble was Hank Gather's best friend growing up and playing ball on the tough streets of Philadelphia, and for short while he gave his fallen teammate one of the greatest on-court tributes of all-time.
Starting in the 1990 NCAA tourney, in which Loyola Marymount received an automatic bid following Gather's death from a rare heart condition, Kimble shot his first free throws with his left-hand just like his friend.
Many wondered whether he would do it again in the pros after being drafted eighth overall by the L.A. Clippers in 1990.
Sure enough in the Clippers season-opening exhibition victory over the Kings, Kimble, who would have one of the best games in his short pro career, shot and made his tribute shot early in the third quarter.
No. 1: Under-Handed
As unpopular as he is in NBA circles, fan's minds and the color commentating circuit, Rick Barry can never be faulted for his unparalled shot, which along with Abdul Jabbar's Skyhook and West's jumpshot is as iconic and timeless as any ever put up.
Barry developed the "granny-style" routine when he was a young player simply because at the time he wasn't strong enough to get the ball up to the rim over his head. But once he realized he could nail all his attempts under-handed there was never any reason to change it. And so was born a pro who would go against the grain with this shot and in pretty much every other way.
After winning a title with the Warriors in '75 and shooting an otherworldly 90-percent for his career, including nailing 94.7 and 93.5-percent in his last two season respectively, Barry silenced all doubters, at least on the line, that his way, although ugly, was the right way.