Today in Sneaker History: Free Throws

Remember when your coach used to stress the importance of free throws? Remember having to stay late at practice until you hit 20, 50, 100 free throws? When it comes to hoops, few things are more important to winning than hitting your free throws.

When the game is on the line in the final seconds, hack-a-Shaq quickly becomes the best strategy when a player can’t hit his free throws. Today in sneaker history, free throws were the most important talking point both in 1992 and again in 2000.

Reebok The Pump Hi - 1992 Dominique Wilkins Reebok The Pump Hi – 1992 Dominique Wilkins via Sports Illustrated

In 1992, Dominique Wilkins aka The Human Highlight Film laced up his Reebok Pumps to hit a record 23 free throws in a row in a single game. Important to note, Dominique’s career free throw percentage of 81.1% during the regular season and 82.4% during the post season made him even more of a threat to opponents. Of course, the record came against MJ and the Chicago Bulls — one of ‘Nique’s favorite teams to “rise to the occasion” against.

On the other end of the spectrum, in 2000, Shaquille O’Neal laced up his Shaq brand shoes and missed all 11 of his free throw attempts in a single game. No wonder Bleacher Report ranked him the 4th worst free throw shooter of all time. Shaq finished his career a dismal 52.7% free throw shooter but eventually figured out how to make the most of his misses…

Shaq and the Lakers ended up taking the NBA Title that year (2nd of 3 in a row, actually) so maybe those coaches don’t know what they’re talking about.

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 14: Guard Kobe Bryant #8 and center Shaquille O'Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers pose for a studio portrait with their three championship trophies during the Lakers championship victory celebration in Los Angeles, California on June 14, 2002. The Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets in four games. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2002 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)Shaq and Kobe Strike a Pose via NBA

Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with 10 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector and Sneaker News. He’s an avid San Francisco Giants fan, Allen Iverson fan, and owns way too many sneakers for his own good.