All blockers, scorers and nonscorers alike, believe in working over an opponent's psyche. Phoenix' 6'4" Dennis Johnson, who led the league's backcourt men with 82 blocks for Seattle last year, while pumping in 19 points a game, says, "Shot-blocking is a great intimidating force that I think is underplayed. When you block a man, it lays on his mind. The next time, he'll be thinking about it, and maybe he'll change his shot just a bit, and miss." Indeed, merely having an opponent think you'll block his shot is often as good as a BLK on the stat sheet. Entire teams have changed their offensive patterns because of the presence of an intimidating rejector.
Russell says that his primary concern wasn't how many blocks he got—even the best rejectors rarely get more than four a game—but when he got 'em. "I've always said that, even if I'm lucky, I can only block from 8% to 10% of the shots taken against me," he once explained. "The real secret is knowing which 8% or 10% to go after. If I block only 8% of the shots you take, but 90% of the ones I go after, who's going to be negatively affected, me or you?" Washington Coach Gene Shue adds, "A block that happens late in the game, on a crucial play, can be very damaging mentally. Even if it psychs the other team out for only an instant, that can be enough to decide a game."