I might have to now Netflix this movie.
With the announcement that your Philadelphia 76ers have signed guard Kareem Rush to be their three-point gunner off the bench, I wanted to pay homage to some of my favorite snipers.
Going through my old basketball card collection a few weeks back at my dad’s crib, I realized the cards I collected the most were not Jordan, Shaq, Penny, Webber, Ewing, Pippen, etc but heady point guards and long range specialists. During the 90s, I accumulated nine Michael Jordan cards and twenty-two Steve Smith cards (peace to the 2 WRs with the same name but in my mind there is only ONE Steve Smith). I had more Rodney Rogers cards than Charles Barkley, KJ, and Dan Majerle combined. Something tells me most NBA geeks during this time should have knocked some sense into me, but they probably snickered as I traded a Karl Malone card for Dell Curry, George McCloud and LaPhonso Ellis (Commish, what up!).
Below is my list of all time favorite shooters:
The God: Mark Price
Mark Price is in a virtual deadlock with Tim Hardaway as my all-time NBA favorite player EVER! Not only was dude the origianl Steve Nash in the half court offense, replacing the receding emo cut with the 80s insurance clerk cut, he also pushed the Cavs to the brink of elite status with guys like Cadillac Williams, Craig Ehlo, and an oft-injured Brad Daughtery playing alongside him versus the almighty Chicago Bulls of the 90s.
But most and foremost, to paraphrase Tourguide Chuck, Mark Price was the cleaner with the rock.
Leon the Professional from three: silent assassin.
Anton Chigurh from downtown: straight killer.
He singlehandedly pushed a young Kevin Johnson out of Cleveland. He’s the all-time NBA leader in free throw percentage at 90.4% (!!!!) with 7 seasons shooting at least 90% at the line. In the ’88-’89 season, dude shot 44% from 3, 53% from the floor, and 90% from the charity stripe (do you want more?!??!?!!). He was a two-time champion of the three-point shootout, a member of the ’94 Dream Team and rivaled John Stockton for gulliest short shorts on a white man. He is now the shooting coach for the Memphis Grizzlies–OJ Mayo, you’re welcome!
The Natural: Glen Rice
Starting his career with the godawful Miami Heat in 1989, Glen Rice flew mostly under the radar until he arrived in Charlotte alongside Matt “Mutt” Gieger for Alonzo Mourning in 1995. And from there, it was curtains.
Watching Glen Rice shoot in his prime was like watching Marshall Faulk run–smooth, confident, and practically unstoppable. His shot was high over his head, and at 6’8”, he was a force at a time when the league wasn’t abundant with quick and multi-faceted swingmen. He could pull up and hit a bank shot, catch and shoot off a screen, muscle smaller players for an open look, or just stand on the perimeter and hammer fools with a swift three to the jugular.
My favorite Glen Rice moment was during the ’97 All-Star Game. Playing for a stacked Eastern Conference team alongside MJ, Scottie, C-Webb, Grant Hill and Penny, Rice showed these men of superior skill what a true natural could do. Rice unloaded: he dropped 26 points in 25 minutes, hitting 4 of 7 from beyond the arc and muscling his way past Jordan for MVP honors, even with Jordan recording the first triple-double in All-Star Game history. He’s 4th all-time in 3 pointers made, a three-time All-Star, and an advocate for bald heads worldwide.
Recently, he beat the bejesus out a dude who was hiding in his estranged wife’s closet. The moral: don’t fuck with a Michigan Wolverine.
The Hired Gun: Walt Williams
The Wizard was one of my favorite players to watch on Sports Center highlights. Playing for the Kings in the early 90s, Walt never got much shine. They mostly sucked and he was gone before they went to war with the Lakers, giving national face time to guys like Bibby, Webber, and Divac. But other teams recognized the Wizard’s lethal shot, and he was brought in as a hired gun for the Heat, Raptors, Blazers, Rockets and Mavericks.
Like Glen Rice, Walt was a 6’8” gunner that was highly effective at getting open and popping a three. But he was also a good slasher who could get to the rim. He was never the focal point of a team’s offense, and he never went to an All-Star game. With the trademark knee high socks, worn in homage to his hero George Gervin, and a cool demeanor, the Wizard let you know he was plotting on hurting something when he checked into a game. He had 8 seasons of shooting over 38% from three and shot 45% from three in ’96 after getting traded to the Heat. And most importantly, he was an absolute beast in NBA Live ’95 for Super Nintendo.
The Genius: Mitch Richmond
Like Gary Grice in Wu-Tang, Mitch Richmond always looked old to me. Even as Rookie of the Year in ’88-’89 and later a member of Run-TMC in Golden State with Timmy and Chris Mullin, Mitch appeared to be 35 years old. Maybe it was his big head and lack of flash, his quite demeanor and unchieseld frame. Whatever the reason, Mitch Richmond was my favorite shooting guard of the mid 90s. A 5 time All-Star and All-Star Game MVP in ’95, he was a secret known amongst other players and NBA junkies for most of his career.
Reggie Miller got all the attention going to war with the Knicks and Bulls every year, but I really believe Mitch would’ve sat ’em down in a tight playoff series given the opportunity. For his career, he shot 46% from the field, 38% from three, 85% from the line, and averaged 21 a game. He was truly a superstar playing in a small market for mostly bad teams.
He never had a go-to second fiddle and was forced to carry the load on his 6’5”, 215lb frame. He was a bulldozer. Anti-slickness. A rugged killer. The bald head murderer. His game fit the times–the Knicks would’ve loved him. But he still could play it sharp–slash to the hole for a lay-up, post-up a crab guard, create his own shot, or wait for a quick dish in the corner to cut you open. He was Liquid Swords on hardwood.
The Closer: Ray Allen
It really hurt me as a fan to watch Ray Allen struggle for most of this past season’s playoffs. It was like watching Ryan Howard look like an absoulte jackass swinging at pitches 9 inches off the plate and then taking called third strikes right down the middle. But great players don’t stay down for long. And thank heavens Ray Ray got on his grizzly and gave the sad clown face to Sasha, Kobe and the Lakers with 7 three pointers in the deciding Game 6 of the Finals for the world champion Celtics.
I became enamored with Ray back in his UConn days. One of my favorite basketball memories is of him battling against Georgetown’s Allen Iverson in the ’95 Big East Title game. Their styles couldn’t be more different: the Answer’s was energetic, in your face, swift, no holds barred, assaulting guards, forwards and centers with his puny frame and complete lack of democracy. Jesus Shuttlesworth was a gorgeous killer. He unleashed his trademark laser beam jumpshot with a release so quick, most guards would be contesting his jumper long after the ball hit the bottom of the net. It was efficient, precise, and clinical.
Watching Ray have nights like that during the course of his NBA career has been marvelous. When he is on, there is simply no defense. I watched him singlehandedly almost send the ’01 Sixers home packing in the Conference Semi’s on top of many other regular season games when he in fact did just that. He can sink a teardrop over big men, floaters over defenders, and finish consistently on the break. He follows the Reggie Miller school of constant movement away from the ball. His defense improved mightily in the playoffs for Boston, but watching Ray Allen get hot makes you realize that he was put on earth to be a master of technique, routine, and excellence when it comes to shooting. It’s no wonder he’s borderline OCD and 2nd all time in three pointers made in NBA history, most three’s hit in the Finals (22), and most three pointers hit in a regular season (269).
If I’m down by two points with 2 seconds left to play, I want the ball in Ray Allen’s hands.
I have plenty of honorable mentions to list, but I’d like to see who YOU vouch for as your all-time favorite shooters.