The Worst Airballed Free Throws In The History Of Civilization, Numbers 30 Through 25

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The airballed free throw is the most shameful, profound action of failure that exists in any sport. And yet, nobody has attempted to keep stats on them ... until now. Here are all the airballs from the stripe we found, complete with video evidence.

30. Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Bobcats

Date: February 12th, 2012
Game situation: Down by 24, 3:29 remaining in 2nd
Career free throw percentage: 45.8 (29 percent worse than league average)
Missed rim by (visual estimate): Two inches
Call from the sideline: "I spoke with Bismack at the beginning of this season about his free-throw shooting. As you all know, he has been working extensively on it before and after practices. He told me that they were literally changing his entire shot. I was asking [shot misses] what the changes were ... and of course, I jinx the young man. My apologies to the Biyombo family for that airball."
Immediate visual reaction:

Bismackbiyombo_medium

Other notes: The arc of this shot is interesting. It looks as though the basketball is being piloted by a captain who has lost Engine Four and is desperately -- and selflessly -- attempting to catch a draft and avoid crashing into a residential neighborhood.

29. Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets

Date: Undetermined
Game situation: Up by two, 4:55 remaining in 1st
Career free throw percentage: 71.2 (3.6 percent worse than 2011-12 league average)
Missed rim by (visual estimate): One inch
Reaction from the booth: "Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!" "Was that an airball?"
Immediate visual reaction:

Hakeemolajuwon_medium

Other notes: If you're a center, you're at elevated risk to airball a free throw, even if you're a) one of the greatest centers of all time, and b) actually a half-decent free throw shooter.

Now, I wasn't able to determine exactly when this airball occurred, but we do at least know it happened no later than 2001. Compare the reaction to those of the more recent items on this list. Half the time the players act as though nothing remarkable happened, as do those in the booth. Only a decade ago, it completely rocked their world. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO BASKETBALL?

Nevermind. Whatever. One day I'm going to throw a party where a bunch of people get together and just talk about how awesome Hakeem Olajuwon was.

28. Nazr Mohammed, Oklahoma City Thunder

Date: April 23rd, 2011
Game situation: Down by two, 8:12 remaining in 2nd
Career free throw percentage: 63.9 (10.9 percent worse than 2011-12 league average)
Missed rim by (visual estimate): Two inches
Reaction from the booth: "An airball."
Immediate visual reaction:

Nazrmohammed_medium

Other notes: See what I'm talking about? In 2011, the booth reacts as though nothing especially unusual has happened. Airballed free throws are on the rise, people.

27. Willie Green, New Orleans Hornets

Date: April 17th, 2011
Game situation: Up by five, 9:56 remaining in 4th (Round 1 of NBA Playoffs)
Career free throw percentage: 75.9 (1.1 percent better than 2011-12 league average)
Missed rim by (visual estimate): Two inches
Reaction from the booth: "And this free throw shooting is beyond horrible!"
Immediate visual reaction:

Williegreen_medium

Other notes: See that leg? That's Willie Green, less than a second after firing off his shot, exiting stage right like WELP HEY GUYS TIME TO PLAY DEFENSE. NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

I think there's far too much emphasis in sports, and especially basketball, of immediately putting experiences in the past -- "doesn't matter what we did yesterday, it matters what we do today," "he has to forget what just happened and go back out there and play," etc. Airballed free throws do not come often. Such rare occurrences of transparent, profound failure are manna from Heaven, and the least he could do is show a little respect and hang his head. Don't bring happy to a sad party.

26. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (first appearance)

Date: January 27th, 2006
Game situation: Up by two, 18.5 seconds remaining in 4th
Career free throw percentage: 74.5 (0.3 percent worse than league average)
Missed rim by (visual estimate): Two inches
Reaction from the booth:
"Oh my goodness!"
Immediate visual reaction:

Lebronjames1_medium

Other notes: Heads-up: you're going to see LeBron a lot on this list, for one reason or another. More than any other player, he's central to the airballed free throw narrative.

25. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers (second appearance)

Date: April 13th, 2011
Game situation: Up by 23, 5:00 remaining in 4th
Career free throw percentage: 42.5 (32.3 percent worse than 2011-12 league average)
Missed rim by (visual estimate): Three inches
Reaction from the crowd: Ovation, loud cheering.
Immediate visual reaction:

Deandrejordan2_medium

Other notes: See, there it is again! That fraternity I was talking about! Blake Griffin, who is also on this list, appears to double over laughing. I think this list demonstrates rather clearly that there's a secret society of free-throw airballers. The Airballuminati, if you will. You won't? Okeydoke, then, moving on.

Intro | Numbers 36 through 31 | Numbers 30 through 25 | Numbers 24 through 20
Numbers 19 through 14 | Numbers 13 through 8 | Numbers 7 through 1

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