Everyone agrees that Don Nelson brought in a gaggle of free-throw gurus shortly after he returned to the Warriors. Everyone agrees that one of them was a practitioner of the two-hand underhand method who tried to make a convert of center Andris Biedrins.
"We brought Rick (Barry) in," Nelson said after practice Tuesday. "It was one of the first things I did when I arrived. He spent at least an hour here with (Biedrins), showed him the technique. I was standing here for the whole hour with him. I really enjoyed it."
Biedrins believes it was former Warriors center George Johnson, who adopted Barry's granny shot and pumped up his free-throw percentage to a respectable career mark of .694.
There is no disputing how the tutorial was received.
"I tried a couple times," Biedrins recalled, "but obviously there was no way it would work."
Nothing's working for Biedrins at this point, at least at the free-throw line. The rest of his game was stellar in Monday's victory over the Chicago Bulls — nine points, 19 rebounds, eight blocked shots in 39 energetic minutes. It was something of a breakthrough for Biedrins, who has missed 25 games this season with groin and abdomen injuries.
At the line, however, he shot a woeful 1-for-7. He has missed 13 of 14 free throws this season.
Two problems there. One, Biedrins never has been a good free-throw shooter. But through technique and practice he has improved. A .366 shooter in his first two NBA seasons, he shot .565 in Nelson's first three seasons back in Oakland. Not great, but then great doesn't appear to be an option.
"It's a lot of mental too, for me," he said. "It's hard when I go on the line, there's so many things in my head. That's been my problem all my career. I shoot much more different percentage in practice than I would shoot in a game, but that's the way it is."
Second problem: He returned to his native Latvia last summer to play for the national team. Coaches there convinced him to change his technique, with unfortunate results.
"Obviously that was my mistake," Biedrins said. "I never should have done that."
So now what? At 64, Barry still advocates his old style with the zeal of an evangelist. He'll tell you it produces a higher, softer shot, and that the backspin results in friendly bounces off the rim. Considering he shot 90 percent for his NBA career, third-best in league history, why not give it a try?
"You have to be open to that," said Warriors TV analyst Jim Barnett, a former teammate of Barry's. "If I were a player today, I believe I would be open to anything if I didn't have a good free-throw percentage. It's something that possibly Andris could look at."
Sorry, no deal.
"I already don't have confidence on the line," Biedrins said, "so this thing would just kill my confidence, what I have left."
Nelson thinks there might be another reason.
"To a lot of players it looks strange, or feminine or something," he said. "So they shy away from it."
Now we're onto something. Once upon a time, Wilt Chamberlain, a .511 career shooter, set pride aside and gave the underhand method a try. It didn't help, and he eventually went back to firing what amounted to chest passes at the backboard from three feet behind the line.
But Shaquille O'Neal, a .528 shooter, wouldn't give Barry the time of day. The guess here is, it's a big manly guy thing.
"Why would someone decline?" Barnett asked. "Because he thinks it looks funny? I think it looks funnier to go 1-for-9, or 0-for-12."
Leave it to center Ronny Turiaf to provide a voice of reason to an underhanded debate.
"If you didn't learn to shoot that (way) when you were 2, 3 years old, why would you want to start doing it when you were 23 and already in the NBA?" he asked. "I think it's kind of a generation(al issue). Maybe in the future, why (couldn't it) come back? We see different hairstyles, different fashions going back and forth. So you never know."
Then again, looking at the pained expression on Biedrins' face, some things you just know.
"I believe," he said, clearly tiring of the subject, "there is a way I can shoot a free throw without shooting it from there."
Contact Gary Peterson at email@example.com.