I CAME across this article in the New York Times this past weekend about how the bank shot—especially during free throws—are popular in the Korean Basketball League (KBL).
Incredibly, those using that technique for free throws are hitting at a high 80 to 90 percent rate.
I have always loved the bank shot since I saw Julius Erving do that with the Philadelphia 76ers. I loved how even during lay-ups, Erving and even George Gervin flicked the ball off the board and used its spin to guide it into the net.
Then of course, some other bank shot artists were Scottie Pippen and Tim Duncan (he is considered one of the best at that technique in the Association).
When Erving and Gervin were going to that shot, it became the rage in basketball courts everywhere, and I too was afflicted. I practiced it at home or in school and became good at it.
On the playground, school intramurals, corporate leagues, Fil-Am Summer Leagues, I would always always use it. Up to the last time I played competitively in 2012, I ‘d use it.
Dunking the ball? Nah, I couldn’t do that. I could only touch the rim. That’s about it.
Look, I love the all-net shot. The swish feels good. You’re a deadeye.
The bank shot? I always felt there was a science, math, and art to it. And I didn’t care if people laughed at the bank shot.
Besides, in the Philippine Basketball Association, Dondon Ampalayo, Philip Cesar, Freddie Hubalde and Bogs Adornado would use the board as well. A good friend, Joey was known for his booming triples. But he liked to occasionally hit a bank shot—get this—from a hook shot. Shades of his dad, basketball great Caloy Loyzaga.
Whether using that box behind the ring or using angles to send the rock in, I got a kick out of it.
And it became a necessity.
Playing in some recreation leagues in the US, if I wanted to get a shot off against the taller Americans, I used the top of the backboard to bank or kiss the ball in. If they messed with it, it was goaltending. So, all the more I used the bank shot.
When I would score using that technique, I ran back rather coolly, but thinking of the Doctor and the Iceman.
When you use it for the first time, some in the crowd will go, “Wow.” Others will say, “Chamba!” That is until you do it again and again.
If people point to the geometry of the Princeton or Triangle Offense (well, a lot about basketball is geometry), isn’t it not the same with the bank? That’s geometry, too.
The angle of incidence is the angle between the path of the ball as it approaches the backboard, and the line perpendicular to the surface that is called the angle of reflection. That’s like a triangle. That is the basis for boarding.
There, of course, is a nerdier way of explaining it that includes right triangles. Suffice to say, there is a math to the bank shot.
So watching those Korean fans wait with baited breath for those banked free throws and shots and celebrating after the shot was made—that’s definitely cool. They keep this alive. And for ballers, the bank is open at all times. Even on Sundays.