Profiles: Acie Law, an ambidextrous general for Olympiacos

Apr 19, 2013 by Frankie Sachs, Print
Profiles: Acie Law, an ambidextrous general for Olympiacos

Now in his second Turkish Airlines Euroleague season, Acie Law IV has accrued fans all over the world who enjoy his exciting brand of basketball. After helping Olympiacos Piraeus to the Euroleague crown last season, Law is eager to reach the Final Four in London and to defend the title.

Like most basketball stars, Law’s road to the top consisted of hard work, talent and a love of the game. Countless hours spent refining his skills made him one of the best point guards in the Euroleague. Where Law’s path differs is how he picked up some of the unique traits that differ his game from others.

“When I was younger, I broke my right hand,” Law explained. “When I broke my hand, my dad made me start working on my left. I got good at it and when my right hand got healthy, I continued to play with my left hand.”

That event as a boy changed the way Law played the game of basketball forever. And not only did he become perfectly adept at using either hand to dribble, Law never went back to shooting right-handed either. Of the advantage it gives him, Law said, “A lot of players are one-hand dominant. Me being able to use both equally well, it’s a huge advantage because it keeps defenses off balance, I’m able to capitalize on opportunities going either way and that helps me a lot.”

Unlike most guards, who may have learned to use their less-dominant hand, Law doesn’t even think about it when changing hands. “Whatever happens on the floor, whatever presents itself, it’s just reaction now.”

Those who watch Law play closely will notice something else that stands out about his playing style. Law does not flick the ball to put the normal shooter’s spin on his jump shots. The origin of his shot also dates back to a childhood incident.

“I’ve broken my wrist – both my wrists – several times,” Law said. “It’s hard for me to flick the ball normally without it affecting my wrists. So I’ve grown accustomed to shooting it without a spin. It’s worked for me till this point.”

In fact, when some have tried to change it, they’ve found that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “My coach in college (editor’s note, Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M University), he tried to adjust it and get my ball to spin more. He tried to tape my opposite hand up, but that didn’t help. The problem is my wrists are weak.”

Those weak wrists and the unusual shot have not stopped Law from raining threes. He is shooting 40.5% from downtown through three playoff games, which has him ranked among the 25 best in the Euroleague this season.

All told, Law plays the position where dribbling well with both hands and making shots at a steady clip is most important. As the point guard, Law said he excelled most at “creating plays for myself and my teammates. I think that as a point guard your job is to organize the offense and create plays for yourself and your teammates and that’s what I do best.”

Law is also a tough on-the-ball defender and above all a team player. As much as anything he does on the floor, just the effort he made to play in last season’s Euroleague title game after badly spraining his ankle 48 hours earlier in the semifinals endeared him to Olympiacos teammates and fans alike.

Though it may have taken some time for Law to adapt to European basketball when he first arrives last season – initially with Partizan Belgrade and later to Olympiacos – he has made the transition quite successfully. “Playing in Europe is really different than what I was accustomed to. It’s really tough here. The game is different,” Law said.

So what made the difference for him? “Hard work, playing and having fun, having great teammates, having a great coaching staff to put you in situations, the right situations to be successful.” And of course: “At the end of the day it’s still basketball.”

And anyone that has seen Law play basketball knows, awkward shot and all, Acie Law IV is great when it comes to playing the game of basketball.