Frank Ramsey once was fouled so quickly after coming into a game that his Celtic teammate, Bill Russell, commented, "Frank was still so cold he had to warm up before shooting his free throw." No one has ever been better at the art of suckering an opponent into committing fouls than this former All-America from Kentucky. Ramsey capitalizes on the fact that, by its rules, basketball is a non-body-contact sport. When contact occurs—even accidentally—the chances are a foul will be called. Free throws account for some 20% of points scored, so it obviously is more blessed to be fouled than to foul. While it is both efficient and ethical to lure an opponent into committing a foul, Ramsey takes this strategy even further, into the realm of gamesmanship—which may affront some concepts of fair play but is accepted practice in the most skilled strata of the sport. The spectator's appreciation will be enhanced by Ramsey's revelations on the following pages.
WHY I FALL
Drawing fouls chiefly requires the ability to provide good, heartwarming drama and to direct it to the right audience. I never forget where the referees are when I go into an act. The most reliable eye-catcher is still the pratfall. Particularly on defense, when everything else fails, I fall down. Luckily, I happen to be type-cast for the part, because I have a peculiar running style—back on my heels, with my knees locked. It makes falling very easy and natural-looking for me.
I am beaten here. My man has a clear drive past me to the basket, unless I step in front of him—and that would be a definite blocking foul on me.
Instead, I shift my weight to get as much of my body as I can in front of him without moving my feet. If the official is anywhere behind me, it will appear as if I am in front of my man.
Then, at the first contact, I fall down—as if my man had charged right into me. With any luck, the foul I deserve will be called on the other guy.
A NEW HOOK
The most opportune time to draw a foul is while shooting, particularly the shots in close. A guard or forward must be able to take his man inside, as I have done here, in order to try a hook. But drawing fouls is not just a matter of making points. Getting opposing players in foul trouble will make them extra careful on defense and even force the whole team to change its basic style of play—always an advantage.
The usual way to shoot a hook shot (as I am doing, right) is with your nonshooting arm held up, elbow crooked. This gives you balance and keeps your man away from you. But if I want to draw a free throw, I drop the arm and pull it in to my side (below). This brings my man on top of me and usually provides so much contact that the referee will call a foul.
I TRY FOR THREE