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Why Shaq Never Tried The Underhand Free Throw

Shaquille O’Neal has a career 52.7% free throw percentage. Some say Shaq could have vastly improved his percentage by shooting underhand or “granny style.”

Rick Barry did it, and he wound up the 4th best free throw shooter in NBA history. Even legend Wilt Chamberlain did it for the 1961-62 season, and his percentage improved by 10%.

We asked Shaq why he refused to shoot underhand, and it turns out he isn’t sold on the technique. Following is a transcript of the video.

Shaquille O’Neal: Because it’s boring.

Business Insider: But it’s been proven to be somewhat effective.

O’Neal: No, it’s not. It’s not proven. Just ’cause a couple guys did it doesn’t mean anybody can do it.

Rick Barry swore by it and is the fourth best free throw shooter in NBA history.

I told Rick Barry I’d rather shoot 0% than shoot underhand. I’m too cool for that.

The underhand free throw creates a softer shot and is easy to repeat. Overhand free throws spin twice on the way to the basket. Underhand shots tend to spin 3 to 4 times. The extra spin helps shots that hit the rim. Even basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain shot “granny style” during the 1961-62 season. His free throw percentage rose by 10.9%

I think it was the man upstairs’ way to just keep me humble. ‘Cause imagine me with the game that I had, shooting like Steph Curry from the free throw line. I’d probably be a difficult man to deal with because in my mind I would know that I’m the best player ever created.

Better than Mike, better than Wilt … so it was just a way to keep me humble. But when it came time to really buckle down and concentrate and you got a whole crowd doubting you and the whole crowd supporting, I always knock ‘em down.

Shaq’s low free throw percentage led to the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy, intentionally fouling players with low free-throw percentages.

BI: How’s your free throw these days?

O’Neal: I haven’t shot in about four years. I’m retired.


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