That a former automobile dealer from Miami can talk a good game is to be expected. He confidently introduces himself as a man able to take a basketball player at any level of competition and, absolutely, no questions asked, improve his shooting accuracy.
No brag, just fact. But Buzzy Braman realized that if he was going to be recognized, it was essential to have a platform. Meanwhile, he learned compassion for Fuller Brush salesmen the way doors were being slammed in his face. Still, he was patient yet persistent.The difficult part was getting someone to listen. After all, Braman did not own a reputation, so what he had to say and do had to be explained and demonstrated in a hurry. All he wanted was the chance to work with basketball players to enhance their shooting skills. He became a volunteer, offering his services without charge. At the University of Maryland, he talked with then Coach Bob Wade and, as with so many others, found him skeptical.
Then, in desperation, Maryland called. It had a special project - center Brian Williams, who had problems at the foul line, shooting only 42 percent in the first 15 games of the 1987-88 season. But Braman showed Williams alignment and proper release. Result: a remarkable 86 percent the rest of the season.
Next, Braman turned to Morgan Wootten, an acclaimed high school coach, and got an enthusiastic reception. Now Wootten proclaims, "For any player who wants to become a much better shooter, Buzzy's way is the right way."
Braman was interested in cracking the National Basketball Association. But, again, who was Buzzy Braman? A virtual nonentity. Some coaches and general managers turned their backs. Finally, the Philadelphia 76ers said that he could appear at their rookie camp. What they saw sent them into shock as Braman connected on 246 shots out of 250 from the college three-point range, including 92 in a row.
Assistant coach Fred Carter was ecstatic. Then General Manager John Nash and Coach Matt Guokas were overwhelmed. Here was a 33-year-old they did not know, with only two years of play at East Carolina University, shooting with a precision they had never seen before.
"The club eventually hired me and gave me a great break," Braman says. "Some of the 76ers were dubious but once they found out I could help them, we established a fine relationship. Statistics prove they benefited. I wasn't surprised. I knew what I had was sound.
"When you shoot, ball watching is the `kiss of death.' You have to keep your eyes on the target, the front rim. Magic Johnson follows the flight of the ball but for every Magic I can give you 80 who do it the other way."
Braman, who once hit more three-pointers than Larry Bird in a simulated television shootout, helped improve the foul shooting and outside marksmanship of Derek Smith and Hersey Hawkins, to mention only two of his students. "I know you can improve a poor shooter, but now I found out you can make a good shooter great."
From a technique standpoint, Braman says that the index and middle fingers of the shooting hand control the shot. On the non-shooting hand, the thumb is important because it can influence the path of the ball depending upon the pressure it is permitted to exert.
Braman wears glasses and insists vision is not all that important. Now he is introduced as the "Shot Doctor," while giving credit to a friend named Ed Peterson, who showed him the fundamentals that he has enlarged upon.
For 11 years, Braman, whose uncle owns the Philadelphia Eagles, operated a luxury car business in Florida. His father is a semiretired judge who is amazed and pleased that his son is so skilled in being able to: 1. shoot a basketball and 2. teach others to do the same.
Braman and Milt Kline, who has been involved in education for 28 years, are staging what they call Buzz Braman Sure Shot Basketball Day Camps that will operate in Maryland cities throughout July. There's no correlation with being able to play the game and coach it. Examples are everywhere. Braman merely made an in-depth study of the physics involved and, while developing theories, shot 500 practice shots a day. He merits respect in saying, "I don't mind giving demonstrations but I want it clearly understood I am not a carnival act. I'm a teacher."