Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Myth of Big Men and Free Throws

DBSF was watching a Magic-Hawks game over the weekend. During the game Superhuman Dwight Howard was bricking free throws, and making the entire process look like he was trying to throw a tic-tac into a shot glass 15 feet away. A thought that perplexes all basketball fans came to DBSF--why can't big men shoot free throws?

Big men, like Howard and Shaq, usually shoot below 60% from the free throw line. This is pathetic considering that free throws represent the one shot in basketball that is guaranteed to be unimpeded and--perhaps more importantly--because these guys are professional basketball players. Their job is literally to play basketball, and one has to imagine that making free throws represents one of the easier skills to master.

Many people suggest that big men's large hands make consistently, accurate free throw shooting almost impossible. It's like shooting a tennis ball at a basket, free throw shooting apologists say. Perhaps it was the four Natty Light solo happy hour on his couch, but all this thinking brought DBSF back to when he was 7 years old and he used to hang a Nerf hoop from the back of his bedroom door. A small orange sponge ball was included with the hoop. It was so small that it was possible--even at 7--to touch thumb and middle finger around the ball.

Well, guess what? DBSF had no trouble shooting free throws with that little ball. He could watch his brother beat Altered Beasts on Sega Genesis over the course of two hours and not miss a single shot from the far side of the room, which is where the aforementioned brother relegated DBSF to during periods in which he was allowed to watch someone else play video games (note: DBSF didn't always "make the cut" to be able to watch his brother play video games.) Heck, DBSF could shoot 90% with that little Nerf ball form the bathroom, which was probably 20 feet away and included many coat and chair-type obstructions.

If DBSF can shoot with a small ball, surely some superior physical being, like Dwight Howard, can. When it comes to poor free throw shooting, the myth of having too big hands seems suspect in the face of Nerf-based empirical evidence.

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