Rolando Blackman famously talked to himself while making clutch free throws in the 1987 NBA All-Star Game. Jason Kidd blew kisses to the rim. Karl Malone muttered under his breath. Wilt Chamberlain turned the 15-foot shot into one of about 18 feet. Rick Barry shot underhanded. And Kevin Durant does a little shoulder shimmy.
It’s a free-throw routine, and everyone’s is slightly different. Including that of one of the best shooters in NBA history – the Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki.
In a recent interview with Mavs.com, the giant German revealed that when he struggled with pressure free throws early in his career he began singing a song in his head to calm his nerves. The song? "Mr. Jones" by Counting Crows.
“I haven’t done it in a few years. That was more when I was a younger player,” Nowitzki told the website. “I don’t know why, but I love that song. I still love that song. That song just always came into my mind, so I was always singing that song. ‘Mr Jones and me,’ and then I was knocking them down.”
Having endured Dirk’s celebratory singing of “We Are The Champions” from the American Airlines Center balcony after the 2011 championship parade, I cringe at the thought of his "Mr. Jones" rendition.
But however it sounded, it worked. Nowitzki is a career 88 percent free-throw shooter.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.