Florida’s Canyon Barry is now used to the taunts and teasing he sometimes endures when shooting his free throws “granny style,” like his famous father did for the Warriors decades ago.
Barry, another of Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Rick Barry’s sons, draws the extra attention because he’s believed to be the only college basketball player in the country to shoot free throws underhanded. (It’s not known if Jackie Moon of the Flint Tropics shot underhanded when he was in college.)
“If I can’t handle the underhand free-throw attention and questions, I think I’m in trouble,” Barry told the Miami Herald.
It sure makes things easier when you shoot 88 percent from the foul line like the Gators’ 6-foot-6 senior does. Barry, who was named the Southeastern Conference’s Sixth Man of the Year on Tuesday, is carrying on a legacy at the stripe. He set a school record with 42 consecutive made free throws.
The unorthodox free throw style was handed down to him by his dad, who was one of the best players in NBA history. Rick Barry led the Warriors to their first NBA championship in 1975 and ended his illustrious 14-year career with a 90 percent free-throw percentage as an underhand shooter. But even dad knows there’s not much “style” in their form.
“It may not be sexy … but it works,” said Barry, who still could never convince any of his three other NBA-playing sons (Drew, Jon and Brent) to use the underhanded approach.
It may not be sexy … but it works.”
Rick Barry, who shot free throws underhanded during his NBA career
“Really, with the underhanded free throws, the main thing is just getting the feel,” he told the Miami Herald. “I hovered around 75 percent for a while, and then last year, the muscle memory finally clicked where I feel like it’s automatic.”
But it’s clear it takes a special man to use the style. Notoriously bad free-throw shooter Shaquille O'Neal tells the story about the time Rick Barry visited him at college at Louisiana State to talk to him about switching to underhanded tosses.
Shaq made it clear that wasn’t happening, saying “Sorry, can’t do it Rick. I’d rather shoot zero percent, too cool for that.”
Rick Barry recalls the taunting he received when he first began shooting underhanded.
“I remember in the first game that I was doing it on the road in high school, I remember a guy yelling from the stands, ‘Hey, Barry, you big sissy, shooting like that.’ And the guy next to him, I heard it loud enough, ‘What are you making fun of him for? He doesn’t miss.’ ”
The unique free throws have worked out so well for Canyon Barry that he’s making others take stock of their own shots.
“It kind of makes you feel bad. I’m shooting a normal shot, and he’s killing me with his free-throw percentage,” teammate Justin Leon said. “But, I mean, yeah it’s very impressive. Shoutout to Canyon. That’s great. … It’s just automatic.”