(Quotient Quizes #14) March Madness had one of its most successful seasons this year. So many of the games were extremely close, there were so many upsets, and the television ratings were higher than in many years.
One appalling thing to me was the inability of so many players to shoot foul shots effectively. The National Champions North Carolina Tar Heels were extremely fortunate to win the semi-final game against Oregon. They won by one point. They missed too many foul shots during the game. In the last few seconds, they missed four consecutive foul shots, which could have cost them the game.
The popular term for foul shots is “free throws.” I remember my daddy told me when I started playing basketball that a free throw is free. He told me I ought never to miss one. If it’s free – take it and make it!
In March 2017 the world’s best free throw shooter died at age 95. Tom Amberry was born in North Dakota. He was “too lanky for football, so he took up basketball.” After serving four years in the Navy during WWII, the 6-foot 7-inch man became a podiatrist and moved to California. He didn’t touch a basketball for 40 years.
When he retired from podiatry, he was very bored and realized he needed a hobby. He went back to the gym every morning and started practicing free-throws. He set a goal to “be the best.” Tom made 500 consecutive free-throws on 473 separate occasions! I wouldn’t have minded shagging balls for him because all you had to do was stand under the net and catch it when it came through the hoop! He wanted to set a new record for making consecutive free-throws. He had ten people come witness his attempt. He made 2,750 free throws in a row! He only stopped because the gym’s janitor insisted it was time to close up. He said, “I could have made a bunch more. I was in a zone, as the kids say!”
What Tom Amberry did in his retirement is a good example for every kid playing basketball. It also has a lot of life lessons for all of us. Here are a few:
1. ADAPTATION – Tom had become a successful podiatrist, but he became bored in retirement and was able to adapt. He looked for something that he could do differently. I don’t think podiatry and free shooting have a lot in common, but he was able to adapt. Can you adapt?
2. ATTITUDE – He wanted to be the best. Nobody had ever been that proficient in shooting free throws – his attitude was that it ought to be him! What if each of us today decided to ask the question about how we will spend our time and energy – why not be the best. Our attitude is the first step toward success.
3. ACTION – Tom didn’t just set a high goal and dream about it, but he also decided to act upon it. He went to the gym every morning to practice free-throw shooting. He wouldn’t leave the gym until he had made 500 shots from the free-throw line. He put in the hours. He said his secret was “focus and lots of practice!” Tom adopted a six-second routine for shooting every free throw. He made sure his feet were parallel, his shoulders square, and shooting elbow tucked close to his body. He would bounce the ball three times and then shoot. He had a plan, and he executed that plan.
4. ACCOMPLISHMENT – Tom Amberry did something that nobody has ever done – he made 2,750 free shots in a row! That’s incredible! I think Tom teaches us “free” lessons about shooting “free throws” that can “free” us up to produce a lot in life!
Tom Amberry said, “A free throw is a gift. You should take advantage of it.” What gift has God given you? How can you use it? Are you willing to commit to “be the best you can be?” Read I Cor. 10:31.
What’s your AQ – Accomplishment Quotient?