Midway through the 2007-08 NBA season, about the time when there was a better chance for a lightning strike than Ben Wallace sinking two consecutive free throws, I felt compelled to address the elephant in the gym. "Would you ever consider shooting underhanded?" I asked Big Ben after a practice. After all, countless studies have told us that the "granny style" is the easiest, most scientific-friendly way to shoot uncontested 15-footers, right?
Wallace paused for a moment with a quizzical look on his face. Then he uttered three brutally honest words that told us where the pro game was headed at the time. "That ain’t basketball."
In other words, it was better to suck but look cool than help your team but look like a sissy. Wallace wasn’t alone, of course. Not since Hall of Famer Rick Barry (career percentage: .900) retired four decades ago has a player shot free throws between his legs on a regular basis. (Big Ben would have had to sink 12,943 freebies in a row to strike The Big Nine-Oh-Oh.)
Meanwhile, while we brag that modern athletes are bigger, stronger and faster these days, league-wide free-throw accuracy hasn’t changed much since the dawn of the shot-clock era. Of the 50 worst free-throw shooters in league history (minimum 400 career attempts), 31 threw up bricks in this millennium. And seven are still active.
These are the all-time suspects, one brick at a time.