|Jose Calderon is 11 successful free throws shy of tying the 16-year-old mark of 97 consecutive free throws. (Sun Media/Stan Behal)
There are few certainties in life and even fewer in basketball, but one certainty the Raptors have come to believe in is that when Jose Calderon goes to the free-throw line, success is imminent.
Watch Chris Bosh as Jose Calderon shoots his free throws. Unlike when anyone else is at the line, Bosh's first move after the release of the ball is away from the basket.
Anyone else shooting and he's crashing the boards, looking to haul down a potential miss and get his team another possession.
But Bosh is so certain Calderon won't miss that he already has switched into defensive mode and is on his way back down the court before the ball even drops through the laces.
"I just expect it to go in," Bosh said, echoing what most of the Raptors are feeling when Calderon is at the line. "I don't even think about it. It's pretty automatic right now."
Heading into New Jersey tonight, Calderon is 11 successful free throws shy of tying the 16-year-old mark of 97 consecutive free throws set by then Minnesota Timberwolves guard Micheal Williams.
Unlike Williams, who set the mark over the course of 19 regular-season games, Calderon's streak is at 39 games and counting.
That only makes his accomplishment all the more remarkable.
Coaches and teammates are amazed when Calderon does something such as sitting out almost 12 consecutive games and then coming back and going 4-for-4 from the line having missed all that time and practice.
"I think that is the hardest thing," guard Anthony Parker said. "He came back for that one Boston game (in the middle of that 12-game absence) and I think he hit four free throws. As I said, the longer it goes on the harder it has to get for him and I'm sure it's crossing his mind. It's just an amazing accomplishment so far."
Jason Kapono, one of the best pure shooters in the game today, doesn't get to the line enough to put a stretch like this together. He's not convinced that he would come anywhere close to Calderon's steadiness even if he did.
"If you have a good stroke, when you get to the line it's all about a rhythm and concentration thing," Kapono said. "Jose is so mentally strong and focused and he concentrates so well. His stroke is great and he consistently shoots it the same way."
Head coach Jay Triano won't discuss the streak itself but you know he's impressed. It was Triano that had Calderon wearing elastic bands around his forearms a few years ago as he tried to address the problem of Calderon's elbow flaring out when he shot. And Triano knows a thing or two about free-throw shooting. He ended his playing career at Simon Fraser having hit what was then -- and still may be, although those records are no longer kept -- a school record.
Based on his average free throw attempts a game, Calderon will either reach or fail to reach Williams all-time mark within the next 10 days or so.
His teammates are doing everything they can to make it easier.
"I try not to talk about it and I try to hush up anyone who brings it up," Parker says with a pointed look.
Or, as Kapono reasons: "Everybody knows about it but nobody talks about it. Why create pressure and buzz?"