The NBA’s most stylish free throw routines of all-time
“All time stylish free throw routines” does not consider accuracy. It considers the anticipation after your man gets hacked in the act of shooting. It considers the entertainment value of the least entertaining part of basketball. It considers finesse, flair, fun and oftentimes, adventure!
Here’s my top 5:
“Mase” went through about 13 phases of pre-throw. There was the standard bent knees, hesitation, then rise and release. There was the rise and freeze before releasing, causing all five players lining the lane to violate. But I’m talking about the one-handed hybrid.
After receiving the ball, Mason would take a couple dribbles, and while bending his knees, release his right hand (his guide hand), leaving the ball to be secured then released with his left. It was ugly, and didn’t do much to salvage his free throw percentage. But that form combined with those funky drawings in the side of his head made Anthony Mason pretty damn classic.
Rip’s best days are behind him, but his free throw form reminds us of his efficient style. Two dribbles, and a little dribble far to his right, get him balanced and ready to knock down those one-pointers. You can’t count on him to bury shots coming off screens, but you can’t hack him. He’s automatic, and that regimented routine is captivating.
How much fun were the series’ against the Sonics when the crowd counted down from 10 to show the refs that the Mailman was taking too long? Malone moved at his own pace in every phase of the game – from the post, to the pick and roll, to the charity stripe. The sequence was belaboured, but so cool:
1) Accept ball
2) Dribble a bunch
3) Bend knees up and down like a car’s hydraulics, and whisper to himself something like “come on baby” 30 times.
4) Painfully slow release
5) Swish (74% of the time)
You wouldn’t normally put “stylish” and “white guy” together in a basketball context, but Jeff Hornacek deserves this prestigious spot. The double face-wipe, single-butt-wipe combo is forever etched in my mind. The wipes were “hellos” for his children, so Hornacek achieved a rare stylish/sentimental double.
And don’t forget the way he dragged his left foot forward as he released. That was neat too.
Makes sense that the silkiest shooter or our era has the silkiest free throw form. Sequence:
1) A couple dribbles
Written word cannot do justice to how smooth, effortless, and natural that shimmy is. Next time you watch an OKC game, take a second to appreciate KD not only for his skill when the clock’s running, but his style when it’s stopped.