Free-Throw record holder offers to help NBA stars

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Free throws are the easiest shots in basketball, and yet teams lose game after game because they can’t make as many as they need to. Just earlier today, Brazil’s Marcelo Huertas cost his team a chance to tie the game in the final seconds because he couldn’t make both of his free throws. Great players like Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dwight Howard have historically cost their team several points per game throughout their careers because of their poor free-throw shooting. And one man thinks he can change all of that. 

Recently, FanHouse’s Tim Potvak caught up with Ted St. Martin, who currently holds the world record for consecutive free throws made (5,221 in a row, set in 1996), and thinks he could make any player into a 90% free-throw shooter:
“It has always amazed me that such great athletes are such poor free-throw shooters,” he said. “They make so much money, but lose games because they can’t shoot free throws. I could take any one of them, and make him a better free-throw shooter, a 90 percent shooter…
…”Think of all the games in the NBA that have been lost by poor free-throw shooting. It’s something that’s easily fixable. It’s not rocket science. It’s simple stuff,” he said. “I guess, the NBA just thinks I’m too old, too short, to teach it. It still puzzles me.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard a great free throw shooter talk like this about great NBA players who have trouble from the line, specifically O’Neal and Howard. Here’s some video of Rick Barry explaining (PG-13 language included!) how he could get to Shaq to 70% if Shaq would shoot his free throws underhanded, as Barry did. I’ve heard a lecture from a man who overhauled Shaq’s free-throw stroke over the course of a summer and had him shooting in the 70% range during game-simulation practices, only to watch Shaq get nervous and revert to his old form before the season started. 

HoopsHype’s Dennis Hans has been writing articles about how to fix Dwight Howard’s free-throw stroke since 2008. I’ve personally seen Dave Hopla make all but three or four of the jump shots (he must have made at least 200-300 free throws, and didn’t miss one) he took during a two-hour lecture, and the Wizards didn’t all shoot 90% from the line when Hopla was an assistant coach for them. 

Even though most NBA players are capable of athletic feats that most free-throw masters can only dream of, the fact is that it would be just as hard for them to shoot 90% from the line as it would be for St. Martin to dunk. Their hands are bigger, their arms are longer, they can’t control their elbow, they don’t have the touch, and there’s the very real difference between the pressure of an NBA game and the pressure of a shooting clinic — as Shaq’s former free-throw coach found out, the pressure of being an NBA superstar can make a hall-of-famer like Shaq revert to what he knows instead of take a risk and try something new in front of millions of people. Few situations in professional sports are as nerve-racking as shooting free throws in an NBA game, and that does have an effect on players. 
I doubt that St. Martin could get any NBA player he worked with to be a 90% free throw shooter, but it is a bit surprising no NBA team has even given him a shot at working with their players. St. Martin says his system and coaching can get any player to 90% within two weeks, without having to change his style of shot. Isn’t that a risk worth taking, considering how valuable every point is in an NBA game? 

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?