NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry shows off the form that made him a 90 percent free-throw shooter, third all-time. | Dan Cahill/Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 1, 2013 6:38AM
The Los Angeles Lakers have lost eight games by a total of 65 points. Dwight Howard has missed 75 of his team-high 157 free throws. Do the math.
“How do you live with yourself if you can’t shoot 80 percent from the free-throw line,” said Hall of Famer Rick Barry, who underhanded his way to making 90 percent of his foul shots, third all time. “Think about it — you get to miss one out of every five.”
Barry was in Chicago on Thursday to speak at a lunch on behalf of the National Basketball Retired Players Association, a non-profit group of former players headquartered here that undertakes several philanthropic and charitable initiatives. Who better to have on your board of directors than the man who owned the “charity stripe” with his underhand toss?
Barry said he was close to helping Shaquille O’Neal when he was with the Lakers and struggling with his free throws.
“He would have won more titles; he would have been the go-to guy at the end of the game,” Barry said. “It would have been a joke how dominant he would have been.”
So why have we not seen an NBA player since Barry try the underhand method?
“I don’t understand why guys don’t want to do it,” he said. “Ego? When I was growing up, I would get teased because girls shot that way. Well, girls don’t shoot that way anymore.
“Why in the world would you not try anything humanly possible to make a higher percentage of free throws? It’s the only constant in the game. Everything else in the game, somebody is trying to prevent you from doing it. Nobody is trying to prevent you from this. Same size ball. Same distance to the basket. Same size basket. How in the world can you not repeat it?”
Barry said he had a chance encounter with Bulls center Joakim Noah a few years ago and was able to offer instruction on his jumper.
“His shot was brutal,” Barry said. “I don’t know if he remembers, but he was like a different person shooting. I said, ‘Now you have a shot.’ Before that, it was a gamble.” Dan Cahill
Thurl Bailey (right) looked younger than the nearly 30 years that have passed since his North Carolina State team shocked the nation and Phi Slamma Jamma Houston with its upset in the 1983 NCAA title game. Bailey, who’s on the board of directors for the National Basketball Retired Players Association, was in Chicago on Thursday to speak on behalf of the charitable organization. Bailey said the Wolfpack team recently reunited to film an ESPN “30 for 30” that will premiere in March on NCAA Selection Sunday. The 15-year retired NBA player talked about the legacy of N.C. State coach Jim Valvano during “Jimmy V Week.”
“He wasn’t just a coach to us; he was a great mentor,” he said. “He could motivate anybody. As you look at what he accomplished in life, and now what he’s accomplished in death, that’s an incredible human being.”
The question is, should he sign it “Richard” or “Robert’’? Hall of Famer Richard Dent will be signing his new book, Blood, Sweat and Bears, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Book Stall in Winnetka, 811 Elm St. The book covers his concussions, the Bears’ vaunted defense and his bumpy relationship with coach Mike Ditka, who would sometimes mistakenly call his defensive end “Robert.”
If Michael Jordan and his cargo shorts aren’t good enough for La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach, that suits the Bulls great just fine.
“No problem!!” he texted ESPN Chicago about a New York Post report that Jordan won’t be invited back to the club after he refused to change out of cargo shorts.
“I’ve been there many times, and no one told me a thing,” Jordan said. “Then all of a sudden, they come to me on the 11th hole and say I can’t wear cargo shorts. Wow! The round is almost over, and you want me to buy shorts now? Yeah, right!!”