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 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.
Shaq and Kobe Strike a Pose via NBA
Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector, and Sneaker News, helped companies like Eastbay, Finish Line, Foot Locker, and StockX better connect with their consumers, has an addiction to burritos and Sour Patch Kids, and owns way too many shoes for his own good.