TORONTO - Amid little fanfare in the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash has inched past Mark Price as the NBA’s career leader in free-throw shooting.
His streak of consecutive makes now at 48, Nash’s percentage from the charity stripe is a gaudy .904.
“I looked up to Mark as a young player so that’s obviously a thrill,” Nash told reporters in Phoenix, where fans are losing patience with each passing loss. “It’s been a tough season, so it’s not No. 1 on my list right now.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, so it’s overshadowed by this uphill battle we have to wage.”
Nash’s counterpart in Toronto, Jose Calderon, set the single season mark three years ago when the Spaniard converted 98.1% of his attempts.
“Repetition and focus,’’ Calderon said of the keys in making free throws. “You have to concentrate and you have to attempt each shot the same.”
Raptors head coach Jay Triano has known Nash for years, coached the two-time NBA MVP on Canada’s national team and recalls a breakthrough moment that unfolded in 2000, the year Canada qualified for the Sydney Olympics.
It was then when Nash consulted with a sports psychiatrist.
“Steve began to mentally rehearse his shot before he attempted it,’’ Triano said of a feature to Nash’s pre-shot routine he’s maintained to this day. “He physically practises it, much like a golfer practises a swing over the ball.
“It’s a simple thing, but not many players do it.”
Mechanically, Triano is very succinct in describing Nash’s stroke from the line.
“An absolutely perfect form.’’