Elite athletes seldom shoot well
Team USA’s Anthony Edwards tries to break the mold
BY DAVID THORPE
One million rebounds.
I like to joke that’s what my career total is. It sounds hyperbolic, but it has to be close: 30 years of training, 100 days a year, 300 shots a day comes out to 900,000. And don’t forget all those boards on Papa Bear’s court (my dad was the “The Bear”). The Sowada family next door poured concrete to connect our driveways; they had eight kids, so—between them, my younger brother, Mike, and myself—I easily made up the other hundred grand.
In that shared driveway, I learned that, when alone, I could go 1-on-1 against the world’s best guards, emulating how other players shot the ball. Until Magic Johnson replaced him on the Lakers, Norm Nixon was my favorite player. Maurice Cheeks was my mortal enemy—as were Dennis Johnson, George Gervin, Paul Westphal, and a host of other guys playing for teams competing against my Lakers. Soon, I had a variety of shots at my disposal: Jamaal Wilkes’ around-the-head shot, DJ’s jumper, Larry Bird’s weird release, Andrew Toney’s bag of tricks, etc. (Norm Nixon retired undefeated on that court—if he missed a shot to win the game, there was always a foul on the play.)
In other words, I learned early on that I had an eye for shooting mechanics. Of course, a kid has no idea if what he’s doing resembles the pros, but I was doing research. It was just me and a ball and a basket underneath the window of my upstairs bedroom for hours and hours over several years.
By the time I’d opened my first training academy in 1993, my obsession with shooting was apparent. Nearly every day, it was just me, my client, and a ball on the court. That soon turned into a career, and for the past 21 years, I’ve been focused mostly on NBA players. I don’t know if I’ve studied more shots than anyone on Earth, but I probably rank in the top five.
Rarely do my eyes follow the ball. Rather, they lock in on the players—fingers to feet—and everything in between. Recently, my eyes have been studying Anthony Edwards, who is defying basketball history.
Elite athletes like Edwards are not supposed to be great shooters.