Recent Moments in Free Throw Infamy
1. June 7, 1995. First game of the NBA Finals, Magic against the Rockets. Just over 10 seconds to play. The Magic lead by three. Orlando guard-forward Nick Anderson (below) goes to the line for four consecutive freebies. If he can make any of the four, the Magic will almost assuredly win. Miss, miss, miss, miss. The Rockets win the game in overtime and go on to sweep the series.
2. Jan. 31, 1996. Trail Blazers against the Jazz in Portland. Five seconds to play. Portland trails by three. Cliff Robinson, a Blazers forward, attempts a three-point shot and is fouled. Robinson goes to the line to shoot three free throws. If he makes all three, the game is tied. He misses the first two. Portland calls a 20-second timeout, and Robinson is instructed to miss the third; the Blazers are hoping for an offensive rebound and another chance to shoot a trey. Robinson returns to the line for his third shot. It goes in. Utah wins 98-94.
3. June 2, 1996. Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference finals, Jazz against the SuperSonics, in Seattle. Eight seconds to play. The Sonics lead by three. Utah's Karl Malone misses two free throws. Seattle wins, 90-86.
4. June 1, 1997. First game of the NBA Finals, Bulls against the Jazz on a Sunday in Chicago. Nine seconds to play. The game is tied at 82. Malone goes to the foul line to shoot two. If he makes them, the Jazz might actually beat the Bulls on the road. Scottie Pippen of Chicago walks up to Malone and reportedly says, "The Mailman doesn't deliver on Sunday." Malone misses both shots. Nine seconds later Michael Jordan drains an 18-footer, and the Bulls win 84-82. Chicago goes on to win the series in six games.
1. Chris Dudley, center, Knicks: .461 career through Saturday. Has so much trouble releasing the ball that he was once called for a "fake free throw," as if he were trying to prompt a lane violation.
2. Shaquille O'Neal, center, Lakers: .535 career and falling. Was seen this season getting free throw instruction from...his agent.
3. Dennis Rodman, forward, Bulls: .585 career, .532 in playoffs. "I don't like being out there," he once said. "Too much attention."
4. Lorenzo Williams, center, Wizards: .377 in six seasons. Has the potential to be the worst free throw shooter in NBA history.