Dear Coach Brown,
I hope you are having a great summer! I’m really looking forward to working with you this year.
Before we get to camp, I wanted to run an idea by you. If you’re not on board with what I am proposing, please just let me know and we can forget I asked.
Basically, I would like to work this offseason on switching from shooting left-handed to shooting right-handed.
Now, I know there’s no record of any previous NBA player attempting to alter his shooting hand (or, for that matter, anything remotely close to its relevance) after nearly twenty years of playing the sport and in the middle of his professional career. And, full disclosure, when I ran this by Coach Scott last winter, he told me it was “so dumb, leave my office,” “basically waving the white flag as an offensive threat,” and “the equivalent of having a basketball sex change.” Nevertheless, there are a few qualities that I still think make my case worth hearing.
First, my Canadian upbringing. As I recently said in a quote to the Plain Dealer (you may have seen the article), there is a good chance “I have always been right-handed but never knew, probably because I lived in Canada.” Many Southerners (“Americans”) don’t realize it, but in Canada, determining a child’s handedness is seen as a useless exercise: After all, in our mind, no matter what you do, it takes two hands to chop a maple, shovel snow, or hop a fence at a Barenaked Ladies concert. It wasn’t until I was 13 and defending myself in a fight against a drunk Canucks fan that I even began to realize that my right hand had way more power than my left. I’m a decade behind the learning curve on this!
Second, I don’t know if you realize how bad of a shooter I actually am today. Over the years, I’ve learned to mask my terribleness. As such, the numbers themselves are deceiving. Sure, my career 58% mark from the free throw line is a nod to my awful stroke, but it’s much worse than that. For instance, you might know that I shot 37% on shots between 10 and 19 feet: Not too bad, right? But, I only took those shots if I was WIDE open and Coach Scott screamed, “TRISTAN, NOW!!” Seriously, 57% of the shots I took last year were within 5 feet of the basket. 5 feet! Otherwise, color me nervous!
Finally, I am feeling a little insecure after watching our offseason moves unfold. I mean, we had the #1 pick in the draft and what did we do? Did we draft a skilled small forward like Otto Porter to replace Alonzo Gee in the starting lineup? Did we drat a shooting guard line Ben McLemore to play off the ball, help us spread the floor, and take some scoring pressure off Kyrie and Dion? No! Instead, we drafted a left-handed Canadian power forward! Sound familiar!? Like we might have already had one of those!? Did the team forget about me!?
As I said, if you are not open to this idea, we can pretend this letter never happened. But if you are – and I hope that’s the case – I promise I will work my butt off with Team Canada this summer to come back swishing all my shots.