Word on the Street

Shaqnopsis (shak-nahp’-sis) noun. A psychological condition that temporarily renders a basketball player incapable of hitting a freethrow.

Usage example:LeBron James shot 8-for-19 from the line in a game earlier this season. He must have had a case of Shaqnopsis.

Word trivia: Shaquille O’Neal is notoriously bad at the foul line, and his career freethrow percentage (52.9) is among the worst of all time (based on a minimum of 1,000 attempts). However, there is a significant amount of anecdotal evidence that Shaq is actually an excellent freethrow shooter in practice. According to his former freethrow coaches – and there have been many – his problem is only partially physical (his hands are so enormous, that, for him, holding a basketball is like a normal person gripping a baseball). The main problem, they say, is mental. In his book The Last Season, Phil Jackson even said that Shaq was terrified of getting fouled late in the game, for fear of missing critical freethrows and therefore costing his team the game. This of course led Don Nelson to invent the infamous Hack-a-Shaq strategy, wherein Shaq was intentionally fouled on every offensive possession on the assumption that he would miss most of his foul shots.

Shaqnopsis as it’s about to strike…

Important update: I just got an e-mail from one of our reader. We’ve been using the term “Shaqnopsis” in our little group for so long that I’d forgotten where it came from. This is what he had to say:

“I think it’s worth mentioning that the word started because of Shaq‘s “Shaqnosis” shoes from Reebok, which looked like a cross between a zebra and the movie poster from Vertigo. The only known cure for Shaqnosis is, of course, “Taco Neck Syndrome.”

So there you have it. Sadly, the Shaqnosis shoes (pictured below) have long since been discontinued. Although the bizarre design probably clears up the misconception that Shaq’s defenders used to flop all the time. They were obviously befuddled by those crazy zebra stripes. I guess that, for the sake of accuracy, I should omit the “p“. But honestly, “Shaqnopsis” sounds funnier to me. The “p” stays.

Suddenly feel… so… sleepy…

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Labels: LeBron James / Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) / Phil Jackson / Don Nelson / Word on the Street

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