While the whole Donald Sterling racism fiasco was boiling over, his team was beginning to unleash their secret weapon on the court: free throws. During game 5 on Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors unveiled a new strategy: foul the crap out of DeAndre Jordan, statistically one of the worst free throw shooters on the team. Did it work? The good folks at Grantland (a sports site I’m proudly addicted to) have an almost poetic answer:
At any Clippers game, Jordan at the free throw line is a complicated experience. All Jordan free throws are preceded by stadiumwide cheers to encourage him. It’s like a gigantic millionaire turns into everyone’s little brother, and all they want is to watch him do well.
When he misses after all that, it’s painful to watch.
When he makes them, the whole place goes delirious.
It’s pretty much basketball in its simplest possible form.
And Jordan made his free throws Tuesday. Most of them, anyway. He went 6-for-8 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, with all of Staples Center getting a little crazier with every make, and a Clippers win becoming a little more inevitable in the process. It’s a reminder of how stupid and fun sports can be. There’s nothing more basic and mundane than free throws, but Jordan turns them into an emotional roller coaster.
William Shakespeare, who just a couple of days ago turned 450, couldn’t have put it better. Reading that passage is enough to make us at Make Every Free Throw want to launch into our own fit of poetics. So here goes.
In a way, the whole Donald-Sterling-being-an-obnoxious-racist/Clippers-winning-game-5 can be compared to the foul/free throw cycle. An act of wrongdoing is committed, and the wronged party is given an opportunity to, in a certain way, right that wrong. This case is a bit odd: the wrongdoer has committed a morally reprehensible act against essentially everyone (that’s what racism is) but especially his team, who during the middle of a clutch game found themselves with an aging overweight and way-too-tanned albatross around their collective neck. But there’s a chance for redemption. Start winning, and you prove to the world that you’re ready to dump your socially inept neanderthal of an owner and be picked up by someone who has class.
And that’s exactly what the Clippers did.
Free Throws have an element of righteousness to them, righting the wrongs of an imperfect game, and by extension, world. But they also win games. Without all of Jordan’s free throws, it would have been a lot harder to win. They may be “mundane” sometimes, but they’re a key to winning. And they might also help to get rid of racism and save the world. Just sayin.