Canyon Barry does issues his personal means within the G League
A few months ago a father and son found a tire and started shooting around. This wouldn't be remarkable except that this father was Rick Barry, a Hall of Fame basketball player, and that son was Canyon Barry, a 27-year-old professional basketball vagabond who was preparing for the upcoming G League season at the time, and that the two of them Time spent refining a vanishing art. Indeed, it is fair to assume that at that moment Rick and Canyon Barry were literally the only two people in the world practicing this art.
This art is of course the free throw in hand.
"My father is still automatically off the line," Canyon said in a recent telephone interview. All of the practicing Canyon seems to have paid off too. In March, he joined the Iowa Wolves, the Minnesota Timberwolves subsidiary, in the Disney World bubble of the G League. There he combined all 21 of his free throw attempts, with each shot grabbing the ball by the sides, dropping it on his knees and then flicking it towards the hoop.
"I would like to believe that this is the only time anyone has shot 100 percent off the line while taking so many shots in any season," said Barry. He was proud of himself, and like his father, who scored 89.3 percent of his fouls in 14 NBA seasons and spent the forty years since he proselytized to tech, Canyon is a true believer. He wishes more players would follow in his family's footsteps.
He always had the feeling that the underhand free throw could provide a lifeline for the fighting players. He still feels that way, but there's another motive now too: in a way, he's struggling to survive his family's legacy.
"It's such a good shot and we've had so much success with it. I hope someone is ready to take on the challenge," said Barry. "I would hate to see the underhand free throw just die."
Barry understands the hesitation. He didn't change his technique until his junior year in high school and the years since hearing every joke.
"Every time I shoot I get an interesting reaction," said Barry.
There was a time in high school when a referee, after seeing Barry fire under his hand, turned to him and asked, in a mocking tone, "Who do you think you are, Rick Barry's son?" There was the other time in high school when he missed a free throw and opposing fans sang that he was adopted. There's a look he gets every time he joins a new team and pushes the foul line for the first time.
"It's that" What the hell are you doing? "Look," said Barry. "So I understand why people don't want to try. You have to be able to deal with the criticism."
Barry, who will represent the United States in FIBA's 3v3 basketball tournament this summer, didn't start shooting his free throws until his junior year in high school. "And even with my background, it took another four years to click." He moved to Florida from the College of Charleston before his senior year, and that season he shot 88.3 percent off the line.
"The science is proven," said Barry, who has a master's degree in nuclear engineering. “The movement is more repeatable because the shoulders are the only joints that move. The ball lands softer on the rim, which leads to better jumps.
“The key,” he added, “is to get the ball right between your legs, not bring it back. And when you bring it up, don't use your wrist, just curl your hands together when you're at chest level so your thumbs are pointing down. "
It's complicated, but he's ready to offer his services. "IF YOU SHOOT LESS THAN 70%, consider switching," Barry recently wrote on Instagram. "Identify a bad free-throw shooter who has to change." He posts tutorials on YouTube.
He doesn't expect many calls in the coming days but is optimistic that his G League performance may help. During a game he pumped a defender in the air and pulled a foul.
"What the hell are you doing?" Barry heard the opposing coach yell at the player. "I told you he didn't miss any fouls."
"Maybe people notice," said Barry.
Photos via Getty Images.
Yaron Weitzman is an NBA reporter and author of Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Boldest Trial in Professional Sport History. Follow him on Twitter, @YaronWeitzman.