Some players shoot the ball better with a hand in their face. For instance, Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots his free throws better with 20,000 fans in his ear.
Every time The Greek Freak stepped on the charity stripe in Phoenix Arena, the crowd started counting down, adding more pressure to an already traumatic experience for the 2x MVP. But the numbers don’t lie — although he’s only converted 60% of his free throw attempts in the first two games of the Finals, it’s still a massive improvement to 53.7% he shot throughout the rest of the playoffs. Here’s why.
GIANNIS😂— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 27, 2021
I’ve seen it all.
I’ve airballed shots, game 7
I’ve been down here.
Only way is up now!
I’ve missed 8 in a row.
I’ve been dunked on.
I’ve been crossed over.
I’ve been all over the place.
(Via @MarzionVids) pic.twitter.com/3JuxIPxGus
Giannis has been through his shooting woes and is still below average as a foul shooter. But he’s still confident enough not to run away from the charity stripe, even after he became the subject of ridicule. It’s partly due to the “the only way is up” mentality he embodies on the court. But the Suns‘ fans have also have something to do with it.
The common denominator for all NBA greats is that they thrive under pressure. Kobe Bryant talked about it during his playing days, pointing out hostile environments on the road as something that fueled him. LeBron James also touched upon the same thing during his latest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
To feel that adversity, to feel that tension is what brings out the best of us. Your whole motivation, besides trying to win the game obviously, is shutting up the opposing fans and the opposing crowd and making them go home and get no sleep.LeBron James, Jimmy Kimmel Live
Every time Giannis steps on the free-throw line, he feels the tension. Better yet, he hears it. But you’ve seen his FT% so far in the series; Antetokounmpo obviously uses it as a motivation. That’s what separates the good from the great, and that’s what makes Giannis great.
It still hasn’t shut up the Suns’ crowd, and don’t expect it to happen after the series shifts back to Phoenix. They’ll keep counting, hoping it won’t backfire. But I’m not sure that won’t be the case when it’s all said and done, especially after Giannis’ display from the charity stripe in Game 3 in Milwaukee.
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