Magic swingman Nick Anderson is making a run at infamy: He could become the first starter in NBA history to finish the season with a higher percentage from three-point range than from the foul line. At week's end Anderson was hitting 35.8% (110 for 307) of his threes and 40.0% (30 for 75) of his free throws. Buzz Braman, the shooting coach, says Anderson has "demons" in him. Those demons were born in the final minute of Game 1 of the 1994-95 NBA Finals against Houston. Anderson missed four consecutive foul shots, any one of which would have clinched a win. The Rockets went on to sweep the series.
Anderson says he's not possessed by demons. "I just missed those shots, nothing else," he says. Maybe he's right. Last season, he hit nearly 70% of his free throws. But this year, he has been horrible. "I've had no concentration, no confidence at all," he says.
Poor free throw shooting plagues much of the NBA, especially young players who were raised to take the ball to the basket and dunk rather than work on their stroke. Through Sunday the Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal had missed 428 more free throws in 4½ years than another giant, Bob Lanier. missed in his 14-year career. Bullets forward Chris Webber had botched almost as many (413) in 196 games as Hall of Lamer Rick Barry did in 794 (425). Sixers rookie point guard Allen Iverson had missed 30 more in 55 games than Golden State guard Mark Price had in his last seven seasons.
Price takes 100 free throws at every practice. In the summer he shoots 600 free throws a day, five days a week. That's one way to exorcise the demons.