Give him a break

In case you were wondering why Ben Wallace is so darn inconsistent from the free throw line:

In Orlando, more than a few years back, he says, he needed surgery for carpal tunnel issues. He says he would “come out and shoot five shots and then my hand would go dead.”

The surgery, however, cut into some ligaments near his right wrist, he says, thus leaving him with a hand that is sort of like a half-screwed-on bottle cap. The wrong angle, it can come loose.

“I spent one summer going to two or three specialists,” Wallace says, “but they all said the same thing: that I pretty much have to get the wrist reconstructed … surgery, pins inserted. … I’ll wait until my career is over. I’m not getting cut anymore. Not while I’m playing.”

So the wrist can pop loose when he dunks, or when he falls on his hands, or when he tries to make the perfect free throw. Thinking about it, he admits, only makes his free throws more unpredictable. He has an awful percentage at the line — 41.6 for the season — but who knew that with every shot he has to wonder if his hand is going to flop like a noodle?

“My teammates know about it,” he says. “If I shoot an air ball, the first thing they do is look at my hand and they’ll be like, ‘There it goes.’ ”

He shrugs again.

“Just one of those things.”

It all makes sense now.

Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a blogger, marketer and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

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