Free-Throw record holder offers to help NBA stars


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? 

Popovich to Aldridge: “Welcome to the Spurs. Go sit” out practice.

LaMarcus Aldridge
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Gregg Popovich’s habit of resting key players at times has become the norm around the league as more and more studies have shown it helps players perform at higher levels plus helps reduce injury risk. Still, Popovich is the poster child.

New Spur LaMarcus Aldridge wasn’t used to this but got introduced to it in a very Popovich way, reports Jeff McDonald at the Express-News.

LaMarcus Aldridge missed his first workout of training camp today with leg tightness. Or rather, the Spurs — being the Spurs — held him out for precautionary reasons.

“We sat him out,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He didn’t want to do it. I said, ‘Welcome to the Spurs. Go sit.’”

He might as well have added “get used to this.” Aldridge is going to get some rest this season. Not as many as Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, but he’s going to get some nights off.

Remember, Aldridge is a guy who played through a torn ligament in his thumb last season because he thought the Blazers could make noise in the playoffs (and they might have had Wesley Matthews not gotten hurt). He’s not a guy used to being told to sit and rest.

It’s his “Welcome to the Spurs” moment.

Ben Gordon goes vegan for a stint, notices improved energy

Orlando Magic v Golden State Warriors
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Ben Gordon ate avocados any time of day for their healthy fat, and also fueled his workouts with oatmeal and different juices or nutrient-rich smoothies.

Gordon went the vegan route – no dairy or meat – for a stretch a few months back.

“With that diet you have to kind of be creative,” the new Golden State guard said. “At that time I had a chef so it was a little bit easier.”

Gordon is back to a more “normal” diet as the season gets underway and he looks to play a part on the defending NBA champions.

He is eating meat again to gain back some of the weight he lost as a vegan for about the final six weeks of the season last spring and several weeks of the offseason. He needed a bit more strength to handle the rigors of an NBA schedule, yet his energy increased on the diet and he felt “a lot lighter and faster.”

The 6-foot-2 Gordon got down to his high school weight of 185, but noticed he wasn’t quite as strong and built himself back up to his typical playing weight at around 200 pounds.

“I experimented with that this summer and throughout the end of last season,” he said. “As you get older you try to see different things that work for you. I’m not doing it right now but I kind of use it functionally depending how my body feels. But with all the running, protein is hard to come by sometimes when you’re doing the vegan thing. I just like to mix it up.”

The 32-year-old Gordon, a London native and the third overall pick by Chicago out of Connecticut in 2004, averaged 6.2 points last season with Orlando. He enters his 12th NBA season looking to give Golden State another reliable shooter coming off the bench – something the Warriors have wanted.

Gordon wanted to be part of a winning situation, and he got that all right.

“You always have to prove yourself,” he said. “With this team, they won a championship so for me it’s just trying to mesh with the guys and not try to do too much. The league is so much about being in the right situation, being with the right group of guys that mesh with your talents and skills. This team here, the style of play is just a lot of ball movement and unselfish play, and they’re not shy about shooting so I think that’s right up my alley. They don’t have a guy on the bench who shoots a high arc from the 3-point line.”

Sure, committing to be a role player might be considered a risk for a guy who has long been a starter, yet Gordon is confident he will find his place on the defending champions and, he hopes, help the Warriors make another special postseason run.

“He’s been around a long time but he’s still got gas in the tank,” coach Steve Kerr said prior to taking a leave of absence last week to fully recover from back surgery. “He’s a good shooter, good scorer. You don’t have to have a traditional point guard in that role because Shaun (Livingston) and Andre (Iguodala) off the bench handle the ball. So he would be a good fit.”

Gordon played all 82 games in four different seasons, including three times in his initial five years with Chicago and again for Detroit in 2010-11. Yet Gordon has played as many as 75 games just once since with Charlotte in 2012-13 and averaged only 14.1 minutes last season with the Magic.

Not that anybody’s counting.

“I think he’s going to use this year to get another long deal,” said swingman and Finals MVP Iguodala, who made his pitch to Gordon to join Golden State while in Las Vegas this summer.

With the Warriors’ up-tempo style, Gordon plans to be patient and knows shots will find him given the way Golden State moves the ball.

“The last few years for me have been tough, but I think I fit in well here,” he said. “I’m taking my chances here. I’m not shy about this opportunity. It’s a great one.”

Oh, and he can’t wait to engage in some regular shooting competitions with NBA MVP Stephen Curry.

“It’s great to be out there with another great shooter,” Gordon said. “Just to see the way he works, how hungry he is. Even though I’m a vet, a few years older, I’m still picking up things and learning as I’m going along.”