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Hall of Fame forward Rick Barry began shooting his free throws granny style in high school, when his father—a semi-pro player and high school coach—taught him the shot.Rick adopted the technique, utilizing it during each of his 14 seasons in the NBA and ABA.Before his third season with the Philadelphia Warriors, head coach Frank Mc Guire was able to convince the 25-year-old giant to give the old underhanded method a try.
In his first two pro seasons, he averaged an insane 38.0 points and 27.1 rebounds, along with an unofficial 10.6 blocks per game. What made matters worse was that teams began fouling on-purpose because they couldn’t stop around the rim and he was such a liability from the line (sound familiar? As a result, he led the league in free-throw attempts.He ended his career in 1980 shooting 90 percent from the foul line, a mark that was then the highest in NBA history (now, Barry sits at seventh all-time).So if science and application prove that Barry’s method of free-throw shooting is so effective, why didn’t anyone follow his lead in the ’60s and ’70s?There was a time, though—from 1891 (when basketball was invented by gym teach James Naismith) through the 1950s—when the underhanded shot was pervasive throughout the sport, with players utilizing it from the line and even from the field.The game evolved dramatically during this half century, and it wasn’t until the early 1940s that the one-handed jump shot we know and love today was unleashed to the world by Wyoming senior Kenny Sailors.