Jason Kapono of the Toronto Raptors gives an interview at the Yangjae Seoul Education & Culture Center, Thursday. Kapono was in Korea with former NBA legend Ron Harper to participate in a camp with Korea's top young basketball players at the Korea Development Camp.
/ Korea Times Photo
by Shim Hyun-chul
By Matt Flemming
When Jason Kapono made the move to the National Basketball Association (NBA) after a successful college career at UCLA, he knew that he needed to give coaches a good reason to put him on the floor.
Taken in the second round, 31st overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA draft, the 2.03-metre shooting guard from Long Beach, Calif. soon discovered that he would find his ticket to success in the NBA behind the 3-point line.
``In college I did a lot more, but once I got to the NBA, trying to find your role and get more playing time, coaches and everyone just kept telling me, you've got to go in there and make shots,'' said Kapono. ``So I really focused and tried to hone my skill because I wanted a chance to play.''
In his first NBA season, stepped into the role of 3-point specialist and posted a blistering 0.477 3-point shooting percentage in limited playing time with the Cavs.
Over a six year NBA career with Cleveland, Chicago, Miami and now Toronto, Kapono has been, at least statistically, the most accurate 3-point shooter in league history. Through the end of the 2008/09 season, Kapono is tied with Steve Kerr, perhaps the greatest 3-point specialist of all time, with a career average of 0.454.
He's also one of only 29 players with more than 250 3-point attempts to average better than .400.
Kapono was in Seoul last week along with NBA great Ron Harper for the Korea Development Camp at the Yangjae Seoul Education & Culture Center along with the top 40 high school basketball players in Korea.
At the camp, which wrapped up Sunday, Kapono shared a bit of his knowledge and experience with Korea's best young players. He talked about the importance of helping the team win by doing what you do best.
``Not everyone is going to be a LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, who does everything well. You've got to figure out what your strengths are and try to perfect them.
``You have to figure out how to take your skills and mesh it in with five other guys. There's a lot of players who care more about their stats, but if you don't win, it's not a lot of fun.''
As a specialist, Kapono comes off the bench and receives about 20 minutes of playing time per game, taking about 10 shots, including a few from downtown. Over his career, Kapono has proved his worth by making the best of limited opportunities.
Kapono embraces his role as a specialist and said he's modeled his game after players like Kerr, who play a similar style and have similar strengths. He said he planned to advise the young players at the camp to do the same.
While the specialists never get the glory of the superstars, the 28-year-old does have an NBA championship ring he earned with the Miami Heat in 2006 and he's also a two-time NBA All-Star Weekend 3-Point Shootout Champion (2007-2008).
He had his best season in 2006/07 with Miami when he averaged 10.9 points per game and shot 0.514 from beyond the arc.
The Toronto Raptor says that maintaining such a high shooting percentage requires consistency, and avoiding long cold steaks.
``I think confidence, that's the biggest thing. If you do go through a cold streak of one or two games, you have to be mentally tough enough to put an end to it.''
So what advice does the 28-year-old have for kids who want to be better from downtown?
``A lot of practice. I've been doing this for about 22 years now and these kids are in the range of 16 to 19 years old, so obviously they're in that intro phase of their careers. So just a lot of practice but also understanding the fundamentals of the game and the skills.''