“What muscles do I use when I take a free throw?”
LeBron James, the National Basketball Association’s reigning Most Valuable Player, recently took that question to Salman Khan, the creator of the online-learning repository known as the Khan Academy.
On the Khan Academy website, Khan dives into an explanation about the muscles “that are directly acting on the ball” when taking a free throw. As it turns out, most of the muscles that control a player’s fingers and palms actually reside in the person’s forearm.
Khan also dips into some basic physics to explain how muscle contractions could be viewed as a basic pulley. When muscles contract, they pull on tendons that move the hand a certain way.
This is just one of many “LeBron Asks” videos that now appear online at the Khan Academy. In other videos, James asks Khan about Newton’s 3rd Law and its application to basketball, the odds of making free throws versus three-pointers, and the chances of making 10 free throws in a row.
James and Khan initially announced their partnership back in May, as the two hoped to work together to boost students’ interest in math and science.
According to a comment Khan posted on the latest free-throw video, LeBron is “super interested” in making more science videos.
That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who’s followed James’ career relatively closely. Last year, in a partnership with State Farm insurance, James rolled out an initiative targeting high school dropouts called 26 Seconds, a reflection of the fact that a student drops out of high school every 26 seconds, on average.
James also launched a Web miniseries last year called “The LeBrons,” which aimed to provide positive messages to students through four cartoon personas of James.
Photo: Miami Heat’s LeBron James shoots from the free-throw line during an NBA game against the Detroit Pistons in Miami on Jan. 28, 2011. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.