Art of the Free Throw - Steve Francis

Steve Francis, Orlando Magic


The Free Throw:
To most, shooting a free throw is a simple way of taking a free shot from the charity stripe in hopes of adding onto a point total. But when Steve Francis shoots a free throw, the Orlando Magic guard is not only looking for the easy basket, but also paying tribute to a special person in his life. Dating back more than 10 years, Steve began touching a tattoo on his right arm that is dedicated to his mother, Brenda Wilson, who passed away while he was still a teenager. "I've been shooting free throws the same way for a long time," Francis said. "You can go back 10 years ago and it was the same way back then." After getting the ball, Francis taps the tattoo on his right bicep, bends down, takes three dribbles, spins the ball while keeping his eyes on the rim the entire time.
The Ritual:
Steve's free throw ritual goes beyond his time as a standout collegiate player at Maryland and even pre-dates his rise in the junior college ranks. Steve started the routine of rubbing the tattoo of a cross with the words "In Memory" above it just shortly after he had it inked back in 1995. Even though Steve has changed many things about his style of play while under the guidance of some of the great teachers of the game, including Gary Williams at Maryland, Rudy Tomjanovich and Jeff Van Gundy during his time with the Houston Rockets and now Brian Hill with the Magic, the 6-3 point guard has stayed loyal in honoring his mother with each free throw. And Steve's free throw percentage has stayed just as consistent as his ritual - remaining between 77 and 82 percent throughout his NBA career. "The first thing I always do is rub my arm, pay tribute to my mom," Francis said. "It seemed to work well after I started doing it, so I haven't changed it at all over the years."