In the final moments of a blowout game Monday night, a rookie that was largely unknown unleashed a special brand of momentousness. Making his National Basketball Association advent, Chinanu Onuaku stepped to the free throw line, commonly the dullest portion of a match and of the Houston Rockets brought a shooting foul. Except Onuaku held the ball with both hands at his waist and hoisted the ball in the basket in an underhand motion, his arms drifting apart.
Teammates encouraged and pointed on the seat; stars made rapt during a walkover. They’d witnessed the return of the “Granny- fashion” free throw, a relic hidden at the sport’s maximum level in decades. Onuaku, a 6-foot-9 20-year old from Upper Marlboro, Md., outside Washington, had broken a stigma, or at least demonstrated he’d not be the prey of one.
Since Hall of Famer Rick Barry retired in 1980, despite evidence it can improve free throw shooting, notably for large guys, the sort has stayed foreign from the NBA. It was resisted by players uniformly, afraid of looking ridiculous, standing out as unmanly or infantile. Or at least they’d until Onuaku made his debut Monday night and made both free throws he attempted, shooting them underhand.
Wilt Chamberlain would be proud.