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Dad's broom taught Boozer the virtue of high-arc shot

Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- Carlos Boozer grew up watching tapes of Karl Malone, a big man with a soft touch.

He also learned the game by studying a tough baller who had his way in recreation leagues. His name: Carlos Boozer Sr.

The old man could touch the clouds with his jumper.

"When I was a kid," Boozer said, "I tried to emulate him."

The elder Boozer didn't give him much of a choice. During workouts he'd hold up a broom, forcing his teenage son to clear it with a rainbow arc.

For that, Boozer is eternally grateful.

"At the end of the day," he said, "the higher you shoot it, the better the chance it has of going in. A lot of people shoot a missile right to the rim. With a high arc, sometimes it will bounce up and you'll get lucky and it will roll in."

Boozer poured in a team-high 23 points on 11-for-24 shooting Sunday in Game 4. A highlight was swishing a 16-footer over Spencer Hawes to put the Bulls ahead 61-60.

Boozer hit 53.2 percent of his field goals in the regular season, best among the Bulls and 10thin the NBA.

"Even the great shooters do their own thing," Kyle Korver said. "It's like in golf. Figure something out and do it the same every time."

Korver has witnessed Boozer's stroke for five straight seasons, the first three in Utah.

"Booz shoots that shot every single time with the same arc and same yell after he shoots it," Korver said. "Every aspect is exactly the same."

Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: "It's a very effective shot for him. He has excellent extension and follow-through. The release is a little unorthodox but he gets it up in the air and rarely hits the front rim."

Boozer has a long, deliberate motion. He leans back slightly and snaps his wrist before the release.

"It has helped me get to the NBA at 6-9," he said. "I'm undersized at power forward. Sometimes I go against guys who are 6-11 or 7 feet. My arcing shot goes over their fingertips."

Boozer points to standout shooters past (Malone, Rasheed Wallace) and present (Dirk Nowitzki), Kevin Garnett) who would have made World B. Free proud.

"I remember watching tapes of Karl Malone," Boozer said. "And then when I met him, he said: 'Use your jab step, use your quickness and then when you shoot it, get it up.' He was playing against 7-footers too -- Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson."

Korver said his own quick release leads him to fire shots with less arc.

"Guys with slower releases normally shoot it higher," he said. "But if I'm missing some shots in a row, I use that as a check point. When you're young, you're taught to shoot it high and finish with your hand in the cookie jar or wave it goodbye."

Boozer said he releases the ball over his head so few can block it. Have there been any defenders who have had success?

"Yeah, a lot of guys are good at it," Boozer replied, adding with a wink, "but I'm not gonna give any names."


Chicago Tribune