Free Doesn’t Mean Easy

Missed free throws drive fans crazy. The simple idea of the ball not falling through the cylinder from 15-feet out appears worse than someone making fun of your mother. It is down right offensive to those who watch the game from beyond the sidelines.

Fan reaction to missed free throws usually includes arm flailing, a head jerk back, and then a groan similar to that of a prehistoric mammal. It is hard to determine why we do this. We just do.

It may be that we see players bounce the ball between their legs, dart right, then dribble around the opponent, pull back with a hand in their face and hit a fade away jumper that seemed easier than the motion it took to get that beer cup to our lips. If that player misses, we don’t think twice, likely because the shots come often and from all points of the floor.

The free throw holds a special place in our sports souls. Especially for Kings fans, as the team ranked 28th in the league last season and this year, Sacramento is in the cellar with their 61 percent from the charity stripe.

It is not as if those who bleed purple expect the team to contend for a title, but after the Kings missed shot after shot from the line during the 2002 Western Conference Finals, (finishing 16-30, at 53 percent), the people in Sacramento are a little sensitive about free throws.

The basketball admirers expect to have thirteen Steve Nash clones on their team that mimic the Suns star’s 90 percent career average. Back in 1895, when the free throw we know today was introduced, only one player was designated to shoot it. That would go a long way for the Orlando Magic, who would be served well by getting J.J. Redick to the line every time (he is 19-of-21 this season) while leaving Dwight Howard and his 42 percent to watch from the lower block. The Magic as a team ranks just one place better in the free throw percentage department than the Kings.

Despite Sacramento’s unimpressive showing, this year’s squad shrugs it off, “The free throws will be fixed, can be fixed, it is not a problem,” said veteran Chuck Hayes.

Rookie, Jimmer Fredette who is five-for-five from the stripe adds, “sometimes you go through slumps…but it is something we can get better at.”

Let’s hope so, otherwise the chiropractic business may sky-rocket in Sacramento with potential neck injuries and uncontrollable arm movements perhaps leading to chronic pain for Kings fans.

Special contributor Rob McAllister is a news reporter for KFBK Radio in Sacramento.  You can follow him on Twitter.


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