With Stephen Curry on his heels, Ray Allen continues to lead the way as the premier shooter in the NBA. Soon to be 38, the current 3-point record holder has built a reputation as one of the hardest working shooters to ever play the game. This year, Allen has found an opportunity to claim another championship as he blends perfectly with the Big Three in Miami. Even when he’s not the primary option, as in Miami’s thrilling last second win over Indiana in Game 1, Allen’s reputation influenced the outcome. Pacer’s coach, Frank Vogel has taken a lot of criticism for not having his big man on the floor, but part of that was due to feeling his team needed to switch screens to cover options like Allen as the best perimeter threat. That helped clear the lane for LeBron’s buzzer beater:
Allen’s shooting ability reminds us that what’s most important in basketball is to put the ball in the basket and that the focus on a core fundamental is sound advice for the rest of us in our lives and in faith.
BASKETBALL – The Process of Shooting
Let’s take a closer look at how Ray Allen addresses the art of shooting:
When Allen breaks it down, shooting is the heart of his game Sure, he’s learned to attack the rim and shoot the mid-range jumper and he’s worked hard to become a good defender, but the heart of his game continues to be his shooting. As a coach, I’m going to address more than shooting in practice and I’m going to expect players to work on all facets of the game, but the old saying, “coaches can always use another shooter” often holds true. We need players who can shoot.
The internet is loaded with great ideas to improve shooting. Check out drills like 10 Spot Celtic Drill from BasketballHQ.com for more ideas. I also like 8 Keys to Quality Shooting Workouts from NBA assistant coach, Kevin Eastman, for wisdom in designing workouts. Eastman worked with Allen when he played for the Celtics and along with Brendan Suhr, has created a terrific program for passing on coaching knowledge through Coaching U Live.
LIFE – Love is all you need.
The Beatles told us a while back, “All you need is love.” In fact, love is to life as shooting is to basketball. If you want to improve your life, learn how to love. The problem, though, is that most of us get bogged down by thinking that love is simply a romantic condition or a family component. We think that loving our spouse or loving our kids and other family members is all there is to love. Love, though, is more extensive than that. It’s really an approach to dealing with other people – any people. It’s a decision to treat any people you meet as important and valuable, whether they deserve it or not. That core value makes a dramatic difference in life. I can easily look back in my life to events and relationships that would have turned out differently if I was committed to showing love to other people. When I see Ray Allen working tirelessly on his shot, I realize that I can put the same effort into showing love to those around me!
FAITH – Jesus is in the building!
Ray Allen played for the Milwaukee Bucks when I coached at Marquette and would occasionally visit MU’s Old Gym looking for pick-up games. On one specific occasion just after the release of the movie He Got Game in which Allen played the role of Jesus Shuttlesworth, some of our players ran into our offices screaming “Jesus is in the building!” Obviously, there are differences between Ray Allen and the one true Jesus. But Allen can remind us of our Lord Jesus’ single minded focus on one thing – love, as in a discussion He had with his disciples:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
Jesus, as any good coach would do, kept it very simple. If you boiled down all the teaching commands from Jesus it would focus on love. Love your God and love your neighbors. So, as Ray stays focused on shooting, I urge you to stay focused on loving others! Have a terrific weekend!