NEW YORK - MARCH 30: John Henson #31 of the North Carolina Tar Heels passes the ball against Rhode Island Rams at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2010 in New York, New York. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Rick Barry was an eight-time NBA All-Star who played in more than 1,000 professional games. As of today he ranks third all-time in NBA free throw percentage with an 89.98% mark. To a throwback like Rick, poor free throw shooting is absolutely inexcusable in today's game. It kills this man to sit on his couch and watch high profile athletes waste the easiest shot attempts in the sport, night after night. Disgruntled by the ignorance, Rick has been publicly offering his services as a teacher to bricklayers across the country for years now. Call him up and he'll decrease your whiff rate by 15-30%, he says. One heck of a selling point, right? So why isn't this Hall of Famer's phone ringing off the hook with eager participants? The problem here comes down to perception.
You see, Rick Barry is preaching a movement that nobody wants to conform to: He shoots the ball underhanded. Yep, just like your grandmother or kid sister would heave the rock errantly at the rim, Rick has perfected the geekiest technique in the world. Because of this, NBA clank-men like Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard have continuously spurned Rick's advances. Rather than improve their own statistics, they choose to hurt their team consistently from the line. Yeah, that makes sense. Those million dollar contracts are pouring in either way, right? This awesome clip of Barry demonstrating his craft alongside legendary coach Red Auerbach tells you everything you need to know:
Even though Rick's intentions are good, it's entirely possible that he is targeting the wrong audience. Once players hit the NBA, they have brand images and endorsement campaigns to live up to. That, plus minions of yes-men at every turn. It might take an act of God to get a proven NBA player to admit his failures and let Barry work his magic. That's why somebody at the college level needs to suck up their pride and give Rick a buzz. As far as candidates go, Kansas State's Frank Martin might be wise to sign his squad up for full session (53.4% FTs as a team this season).
But individually, there isn't a more ideal test subject than North Carolina forward John Henson. A lanky five-star athlete who scores, rebounds and blocks shots well enough to get NBA scouts intrigued, Henson is the single worst player at the charity stripe in D-1 hoops. And make no mistake, he earned that status in a pivotal game against Kentucky over the weekend by air-balling two straight freebies (sadly there's no video evidence). Henson is now at 35.1% for the year after hitting just 43.8% last season. The sophomore could be making the most of his 25 minutes per night if he wasn't so abysmal at the line. Instead, he's barely even accurate enough to hit the rim every third time and is a serious liability late in games. Any surprise that he's the star of a YouTube clip entitled 'Worst Free Throw Ever'?
It's not a stretch to say that Henson could be a 60%+ shooter with Barry's tutelage. And really, he's already getting mocked for how bad his form is to begin with, so those laughing at a radically new approach might have a measured shelf life once the shots starting falling in. Remember, this underhand thing was the ticket for one of the greatest free throw shooters in the history of the game. That's got to count for something. Anybody out there have the balls to give him a chance?
More of our favorite free throw vids after the jump...