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Sorry, Dwight Howard, Your New Record Isn’t a Big Deal
Some records are in the history books just because it would be unfair to leave them out. This could definitely be said about the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard's record for the most free-throw attempts in a single game.
Free-throw records are only around because there are records for every other statistical category in the box score. To leave out attempts or makes from the charity stripe would be like not buying a McDonalds' Happy Meal for one child when you get the other two kids the meal with fries instead of apples. In other words, unfair.
This is the only reason this record is relevant at all, because if there are two things every professional basketball player should be able to do, it's going to the free-throw line and shooting a high percentage.
Fortunately for Howard, he is bigger than most NBA players at 6 feet 11 inches and 265 pounds. If he can't bang in the paint and draw fouls on smaller players or useless defenders, he shouldn't be in the league. It shouldn't be hard to go to the free-throw line many, many, many times when a player is this big.
The 7-foot-6-inch ex-NBA player Shawn Bradley would have been a better car salesman than a professional basketball player because of his ability to sell his size, not his game.
Sure, it took 50 years to break Wilt Chamberlain's record. This is going to be the opposing argument of why the record is a big deal. Honestly, how many people are the size of Howard and the late legend Chamberlain? Not very many at all. "Wilt The Stilt" stood 7 feet 1 inch and played in the 1960s and 1970s, an era before there was a GNC on every city block selling performance enhancing supplements. Plus, players who are their size, such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, are finesse players, not front court bangers.
Also, the game has changed. Even with team's "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Shaquille O'Neal couldn't break the record. Why? Because the NBA is now a guard's game. He had Kobe Bryant, Rick Fox, Glen Rice and Dwayne Wade to get the ball to. No reason for him to slow down the game by dilly dallying in the paint when these guys could hit a jumper and keep the pace of the game the way the team wanted it: quick.
Also, there have been plenty of complaints about the referees' calls this season. I watched the first half of Howard's record-setting game against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday and saw four calls that either could have been whistled against him or not considered a foul at all. This was only in the first half. Also, the superstar rule has to be considered since Howard is a bonafied superstar.
Most superstars (especially Bryant, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan) will get—got in Jordan's case—whistles blown in their favor because of their name and brand. There is no doubt in my mind Howard is on this level.
No one can deny Howard had a monster game with his 45 points and 23 rebounds. But to overshadow his overall great night with a low ball record such as the most free-throw attempts in a single game is a slight to his talent and skill as a player.
A free-throw is a give away basket because the league doesn't want every player in the NBA to throw elbows and punch opponents for rebounds. A foul wouldn't mean anything to an opponent if there wasn't a chance for the hacked guy to add points on the scoreboard. This means the free-throw is an add-on, not a stat historians should base the game around or an aspect of the game young kids should mold their game to.
Yes, every basketball player in the world should be able to shoot and make free throws, but it shouldn't be more important than shooting a 3, shot blocks, huge rebounding numbers (such as Howard's 23), steals, assists and high shooting percentages from anywhere on the court. Kids and historians should worry about those stats, not free throws.
Plus, if a player is going to get to the charity stripe a record amount of times, the player should be able to set the record for makes. However, Howard couldn't do so because the Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash could shoot a higher percentage from the free-throw line by heading the basketball into the hoop like a soccer ball.
Howard's 45 points and 23 rebounds is a big time performance and the big man deserves a pat on his broad shoulders. But, the free-throw line record should only be mentioned in footnotes, not headlines.
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