Green Street
NEED TO KNOW
Don't forget to follow Ben on Twitter.
A WEEI.com Celtics Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network

For those trying to fix Shaquille O’Neal’s free throws, don’t bother

10.08.10 at 9:05 am ET
By

New city. New team. Same routine.

Shaquille O’€™Neal has taken the third-most free throws of any player in the NBA (11,347), and trails only Wilt Chamberlain in the amount he has missed (5,974). But what he might lead the professional basketball-playing world in is something that no stat service will hand over ‘€“ advice.

Wherever O’€™Neal has gone he has been besieged by legions of well-meaning observers who swear they have the elixir to the big man’€™s free throw shooting woes.

For those people, Shaq has a message: Don’€™t bother.

‘€œI never take advice,’€ O’€™Neal told WEEI.com after Tuesday’€™s practice, saying he learned that lesson by his second season in the league.

‘€œActually taking advice made my numbers drop. Whatever you use to get you to where you are at you should never change.’€

Where O’€™Neal is at is an incredibly successful basketball player, which a prolific ability to miss free throws. He has the second-worst free throw shooting percentage in the history of the NBA (.527), with Chamberlain the only player to have shot worse (.511).

(Fear not, even if O’€™Neal duplicates his 112-for-226 performance of a season ago — .496 ‘€“ it will only knock him down to .526.

‘€œI could care less. How many years has he played? I’m not smarter than anybody else he’s had. He’s only had Riley, Phil Jackson,’€ said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. ‘€œI’m not going to try and do anything with him. The day we signed Shaq I got letters, people, everybody giving advice. If you can get a hold of him, have at it.’€

‘€œEverybody would come up to him. Even players wanted to show him how to do it,’€ said Celtics guard Delonte West, who played with O’€™Neal in Cleveland last season. ‘€œHe wants to do it his way. But you would be surprised, he’€™s been knocking them down in practice. We’€™ve been doing ‘€˜Hack-A-Shaq’€™ in practice and he’€™s been making us pay for it every time.’€

Unfortunately for the Celtics, the perceived improvement hasn’€™t translated into the games as of yet. O’€™Neal — whose 226 attempts last season were the fewest of his career — has taken five free throws in the Celts’€™ first two exhibition games and missed them all.

But while O’€™Neal isn’€™t keen on soaking in unsolicited advice, it doesn’€™t mean he isn’€™t going to take advantage the resources available to him.

What O’€™Neal can draw upon now is the expertise of one of the greatest free throw shooters of all-time, Ray Allen, who enters the season with the fifth-best percentage in the history of the game (.894). (For reference sake, Allen has missed 458 regular season free throws in his 14-season career. In the 2000-01 campaign alone, O’€™Neal misfired 473 times.)

‘€œI won’t say anything to him about his foul shooting unless he asks. He’s been around long enough. I feel like if he wants to get better, or if he feels like he’s at a point where he doesn’t realize what he’s doing he’ll come to me,’€ Allen explained.

If he says something like, ‘I don’t feel good about free throws’ I might step in and say, ‘This is what I see.’ He actually said something to me earlier and I just gave him some advice. But they have to come to me first. I’m not going to over-inundate them with advice or knowledge with what I know, because what works for me might now work for somebody else.’€

2013 NBA Draft Board
2014 NBA Draft
Celtics Headlines
NBA Headlines