How many perfect moments happen in life?
How many times do find yourself in those perfect situations, that go like this.
You’re a great shooter, the very best on the court, and the defense leaves you wide open on the wing.
or (for those non hoopers)
You and the girl/guy you’d love to talk to/date/marry just happen to be at the same place, at the same time, and there is no one around to interrupt you.
Those are just two examples, but If you’re really a great shooter and the person you’re pursuing is thought to be attractive by you, chances are neither of you will be left alone for very long.
So what do you do?
The Jordan Fadeaway
No coach in the world will tell you that taking a fadeaway jumper from 15 feet is a good shot unless your first name is Michael and your last name is Jordan.
Seeing MJ play in person multiple times, the degree of difficulty of said fadeaway was only magnified.
I would sit there in disbelief at how he contorted his body, leaning back so far at times that his shoulder blades seemed to run parallel with the floor. Then with a flick of the wrist, the ball would more times than not finds its way safely to its home.
How many fadeaways did Jordan take in practice sessions before it became an unstoppable, go to move?
Surely thousands upon thousands.
Back in the late 90s, as a high school kid, my brother figured out something that very few ever learn and hardly any are ever taught.
He understood then, when he would go 42-of-50 from 3 pt land, that making 43 or 44 or even 50 would only give a marginal increase in percentages shooting the ball in the perfect situation.
He also understood that during the course of any game he might get three or four of those perfect situations at most.
So he asked the question most never will, why spend hours practicing for the perfect moment?
And hours upon hours he would spend.
During the summer after his sophomore year of high school, he’d routinely take 4,000-5,000 jumpers a week.
However, a nice slice of those were off the move or with his feet in weird positions.
He taught himself to makes shots under distress by preparing for the imperfect moments of the game.
He’d routinely stagger his feet the exact opposite way they should be, by placing his left foot far in front of his right foot and pull up for one jumper after the other.
He’d also spread his feet to uncomfortable widths and repeat over and over.
Keep in mind we were both self taught. When the 90s were the freshest thing out, we wore out the rewind and play buttons on the VCR trying to learn the game we loved. We came up before the days of Impact Basketball and Orlando Hoops training.
My brother was ahead of his time…make that IS ahead of his time. I still don’t know anyone teaching this.
It’s unorthodox to say the least.
I don’t even do it myself despite his constant encouragement to do so.
He always tells me, “You don’t need to practice spot up shooting anymore. You need to practice everything off the move.”
He usually continues with, ” we’ve made so many shots in our life, that we will always be the best shooters, at most any court, even if we don’t practice.”
In the context of most city courts, that is a very true statement.
The Fadeaway, Killer Crossover, Dream Shake, Sky Hook.
If you’re a basketball junkie, then surely images of Jordan, Tim Hardaway, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, just caressed your memory.
They took something that most coaches, before them, would frown upon and made it something they feared and coveted.
Through hard work Jordan, Hardaway, Olajuwon and Abdul Jabbar made the imperfect…perfect for them.
When Being Great at Something Isn’t Enough
Innovators who put thought to action have shaped, molded and changed our world since the beginning.
They’ve never just accepted the norm. They pushed beyond it.
The asked why or rather, why not, and then offered a solution.
I’ve always wondered what the dialogue was like when Michael Jordan went to Phil Jackson and told him that he wanted to post up? Sure more guards start in the post now, but then, it was very much big man land. How did Phil not think, you’re freakin’ Michael Jordan, just Michael Jordan whoever’s guarding you and let’s let the big guys play the post. Who knows, maybe Phil did push back at the idea. Maybe MJ insisted.
He changed the game.
I believe we all innovate, but just a handful actually see it through. The majority stop when the realization that success requires the innovator to get their hands dirty. The majority fall back into what is comfortable and that’s why you only see one person doing the fadeaway efficiently (Kobe), and none doing the “dream shake” or sky hook.
God doesn’t make great shooters and legendary moves
If we’re talking just wide open shooting alone in a gym, there is no doubt in my mind that I can outshoot huge NBA names like LeBron James, John Wall, Dwight Howard and on and on and on. (Due to my physical limitations, obviously that wouldn’t translate to NBA games or playing them one on one, but just the art of shooting the ball, I’ve got them.)
Making shots is something I’ve worked on my whole life. It has more to do with the fact that I can’t do what James, Wall and Howard can do, than anything else. And the reason they can’t shoot the ball like me, is because they can do what they do.
God blessed them with physical abilities and size.
But God doesn’t make great shooters and legendary moves.
Now I’m not saying those guys don’t work – so save the hate comments. But there is a reason LeBron isn’t killing people in the post. There is a reason Wall isn’t killing teams with jumpers. There is a reason Dwight can’t make a 12-15 footer and shot 49% from the free throw line this year (and it’s not big hands or his height – all you excuse makers need to give that one up [see Dirk]). There is also a reason all I can do well is shoot.
We fall back into what is comfortable. We fear failure and yearn for success, so we do what has got us to wherever we are.
When I go to the gym I practice shooting. I don’t work on moves off the dribble or going to the basket hard. I try to get better at what I already do well because every time that ball swishes through the net, I’m getting positive reinforcement to do another.
I love watching LeBron, John and Dwight. I love what they’re able to do on the court. They routinely leave me in disbelief. But imagine IF LeBron worked on his footwork and post moves. Imagine IF LeBron, John, and Dwight could shoot the ball as well as me.
Against 90 percent of the teams/players they face, they will have their way, but the other 10 percent is the problem because that is where champions are found. It’s a somewhat similar tale for me on a much different level of course. Against everyday people like myself, my ability to make shots is almost unstoppable, until I face a higher level of competition (see the people I’ve played for this site*) or someone who just knows my game extremely well (see my brother).
The difference between them and me is that it’s not physical limitations keeping them from getting better, it’s a lot of hard work at something God didn’t give them.
The legendary ones are just as gifted as the above mentioned, but they chose to focus on the weakness rather than the strength.
They chose to create a solution before there was a problem.
Michael Jordan wanted to be prepared for any and everything the defense threw his way and he was, maybe not a first, but over time for sure.
That’s why he’s the greatest.
Time for Change – me vs. the Pros
I’m not getting any younger. Later this month, I’ll be every bit of 35. Still young by life standards, but in the basketball world, well not even Kobe is moving the same these days (still elite though).
I’ve spent my entire basketball life working on making a high percentage of shots in the perfect situation.
I know I can shoot the ball well. Pros know I can shoot the ball well. Mark Cuban knows I can shoot the ball well.
That’s kind of the blessing and the problem at this point.
It’s too predictable.
It’s time to try something new. It’s time for change. It’s time to prepare for the imperfect moments.
How I’ll Prepare for the Imperfect Moments
“I always wanted to be comfortable in any situation. Playing against bigger or quicker guys doesn’t always afford you an open look. You gotta make an open look. Shooting at unexpected times or with imperfect foot positioning makes you unpredictable. From there what used to be predictable (spot ups) become second guesses for the defender. Taking the defense off guard creates chaos in love and war. I want them to panic when their best doesn’t stop me. I want them to know it’s over before the score says so. Your jump shot won’t leave you. It’s just looking to grow.” – Bob Eller
So with that said, over the next month, I plan on introducing the following to my workouts to see what effect it will have on my game.
- Shooting with my feet in weird/uncomfortable positions
- Shooting at least 50% of my attempts off the move
- Working on my floater (both hands)
Will it make the difference against the pros? Am I just over matched?
Time will tell, but it’s worth the work to find out.
**Please note that I only support the foot positioning drills once a firm foundation of excellence in shooting has been established.
What Will You Do?
So that’s what I’m off to do.
How about you? What are you doing to make yourself more prepared for those imperfect moments in life? Are you focusing on improving upon a weakness like Michael Jordan did often in his career or will you just continue lowering your head and running to the basket until father time catches up with you?
Share your story of success or struggle in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you.
me vs. MJ…the journey continues. As always, thank you so very much for following along.
And remember ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE with FAITH and HARD WORK!
If you’re new to the site, I set out in August 2010 to get a game of 1-on-1 vs. my childhood hero Michael Jordan. This site is about that journey…through every valley, to every mountain top of triumph!
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