Take that picture… blow it up to FatHead size… and stick it on the wall of every basketball locker room in the world as the example of just a purely perfect shot. Straight line from his head to his feet… elbow in at a 90 degree angle… fingertips on the ball….
But here's the thing about that shot. A lot of people can look like this. Coaches everywhere teach kids this form all the time and thousands of them can duplicate it. And thousands of them can stand alone in a gym and hit shot after shot. But very few can do what Ray does: run for miles every night, weaving in between giants, spinning one way or the other, and somehow ending up just like that time and time again.
What makes Ray Allen "Ray Allen"… everything he told Paul Flannery:
Allen comes off those screens constantly and he has broken the play down to a science. For example, he discovered some years ago that he is right-eye dominant. A small thing perhaps, but once he came to that conclusion he also realized that when he comes off the screen on the right side he didn’t have to turn his body completely around because he can still see the target out of the corner of his eye.
“Coming the other way I have to turn more,” he said. “When I’m coming [on the left] side I have to turn so I have to be a little faster on [that] side and this side I don’t have to be as fast.”
That extra half-second comes in handy because there is a whole mental checklist he runs through whenever this play is called. Did his man go under, or over the screen? Did they switch off the big man setting the screen, which means a mismatch under the basket?
“Once I come from underneath the basket you kind of glance over your shoulder and see if your guy is trailing you or of he tried to shoot the pick, going over the top,” Allen said. “If both guys came with me, then I have a pass. It’s a split-second decision that you have to make.”
This is just part of it. You gotta follow that link and read the whole thing.
Just reading all the things that Ray thinks of, checks on, and decides in the course of a few seconds is so far out of my grasp that I wonder if he exists in a world where a second to you and me is actually two or three to him. I can't fathom having thought of all the things Ray thinks of when I was on the court.
You wonder what makes NBA stars what they are? All that stuff right there. A million guys out there have sweet jumpers… a handful can duplicate it in the chaos of an NBA play. A million guys have the wind to run around and the build to handle the pounding… but a handful can think, reason, adjust, and make decisions while it's all happening.
It's an amazing combination of thought, strategy and science. And it's what makes Ray one of the best shooters in NBA history.