Now in my fifth year of coaching boys’ and girls’ park district basketball, I came across this video online of the late and legendary Boston Celtics coach (and GM) Red Auerbach.
The clip, featuring Larry Bird shooting over teammate Dennis Johnson and rival Ralph Sampson, brought back memories of August 1985 (around the time this video was shot, I’d estimate.)
At that time, I was about to enter my senior year of high school and was attending the Red Auerbach Basketball Camp in my hometown of Marshfield, Mass. Along with another basketball player, I was brought up to demonstrate a 1-on-1 move that Red had just explained.
I shot from about 15 feet away, near the free-throw line, and the ball bounded off the rim–a respectable miss, I thought. At least it wasn’t an air-ball. Red didn’t see it that way. Next thing I know, Red is hollering, “Hey! What did I just finish explaining to you?!?”
I was mute, as Red grabbed the ball and (re)-lectured me and a few hundred other players about the importance of “shooting with the seams” of the ball. Doing so helps ensure that balls won’t spin off the rim, he explained, but will instead drop into the basket.
Today, more than 30 years and tens of thousands of shots later, I instinctively grasp for the seams on most every shot I take. Alas, having the proper rotation is no help when I fire air-balls, which still happen more often than I would care to admit.