(the Mavs’ Boren, right, shown with unidentified drunk)

Considering Don Nelson had something like 3 dozen assistant coaches during his tenure in Dallas, is there any wonder that he left the Mavericks with the NBA’s only full-time free throw tutor? From the New York Times’ Benjamin Hoffman.

Gary Boren, 67, has been with the Mavericks as an assistant since 1999 while working in banking. He is an adviser to The Equity Group, which is based in Dallas. Since he joined the Mavericks, they have finished in the top six in the league each season in free-throw shooting, including four first-place finishes. This season, Boren has them at 80.7 percent, the fourth time his team has been higher than 80 percent at the line.

Boren begins by filming the players shooting free throws.

œWhat™s amazing is, these guys have seen miles of film running up and down the court and the coaches are yelling at them, but not one in a hundred has been filmed standing still shooting a free throw, Boren said.

There are 41 common problems that Boren is looking for in the footage, but he cautions that merely telling a player what he is doing wrong will not help him. He must first deal with the mental barriers that players put up.

œThey all think they™re better shooters than they are, Boren said.

œI™m not trying to make them all look like Mark Price, Boren said of the former N.B.A. guard of the late 1980s and ™90s, who played mostly with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Price was a 90 percent career free-throw shooter, the best in league history.

œI™m trying to take what they™ve got ” because they™ve already shot thousands of shots ” and tweak their shot in the most important areas that will give them a shot to get better.

Even when the player wants to learn, Boren must conquer another barrier.

He tells them: œWhen I look at you, I see two things ” a brain and a bunch of muscles ” and the good news is the brain is really clicking. But the bad news is your muscles have been taking a siesta. They like it the old way and they™re not paying attention to any of this stuff. So when we get down there, they™re going to resist.

Boren credits Denny Price, Mark™s father, with teaching him the fundamentals. Denny Price taught Mark free-throw shooting when he coached him in high school and continued to give his son advice throughout his N.B.A. career. When Boren decided to pursue ways to help players with free throws, he sought out Denny Price, whom he had met, and received pointers from him.

œBy no stretch am I claiming to have dreamed all this stuff up, Boren said, laughing. œI tell people that knew who Mark was and his daddy Denny that 98 percent of what you™re hearing from me, just pretend you™re listening to Denny Price talking.

œIt™s so simple what™s going on here, Boren said. œIt™s just crazy that there™s no other free throw coaches in the league.

While there’s a full slate of afternoon action happening this Martin Luther King Day, persons resistant to the charms of NBA League Pass might want to check out the D-League’s Arkansas at Idaho battle, currently being shown on NBA TV. I don’t know what the weather’s like in Sioux Falls today, or what other cultural events are on offer, but there couldn’t be more than 200 people in attendence watching Peter John Ramos show off his silky skills for the Stampede.