What is a Brick in Basketball?

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If you’ve ever played basketball, you know that the phrase “brick” is a basketball slang used to describe a particular type of missed shot. But not all missed shots can be classified as a brick. So, if you want to know what is a brick in basketball, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll get to the bottom of the origin and exact definition. 

What Does Brick Mean in Basketball_ What Does Brick Mean in Basketball? 

While all bricks are misses in basketball, not all misses can be considered bricks. The categorization is a bit complicated, but most basketball fans would know (and hear) a bricked shot when they see one. 

In the most basic sense, a brick is a badly missed shot. As such, an airball is one of the easiest to define as a brick. Shots like these make it seem like the ball is not even a round object because of its poor trajectory. 

The range is also essential as a brick is significantly denser than a basketball. Its weight, therefore, would make it difficult to shoot a brick into the rim using a traditional jump shot or layup. A bricked shot happens when a player shoots the ball harder than they should, hitting the backboard with a loud thud.

Why is the Basketball Shot Called the Brick_ Why is the Basketball Shot Called the Brick? 

Former NBA player Terry Driscoll can probably explain it best, “Air balls (shots that don’t hit the rim or backboard) and glass balls (shots that bounce off glass backboards like rockets). Around the league they call them ‘bricks’ because the ball falls like a brick after one of these shots.”

A poorly shot basketball is called a brick because that’s precisely how it looks – a brick. This means the shot doesn’t have the traditional arc that basketball players like to put on their shots. 

It could also mean that the shot hits either the rim or the backboard at a certain angle and the ball bounces straight down to the floor like a falling brick instead of bouncing in the expected direction. 

A shot that’s too strong can also be considered a brick, as it sounds like one hitting a wall when it hits the backboard. Shaquille O’Neal, for example, is most famous for shooting bricks at the free-throw line. 

A player can also be considered as shooting bricks if he’s not making the shots he typically makes in a game. So, for example, even Kobe Bryant can be shooting bricks, meaning he’s not making the crucial shots he’s known for making. 

Who are Some of the NBA Bricklayers_  Who are Some of the NBA Bricklayers?  

Bricks are relatively common in the NBA, even for stars like Shaq. And for players who regularly shoot bricks either from the free-throw line like Shaq or from the three-point line like Russell Westbrook in his 2021 season with the Lakers, fans hilariously call them bricklayers. 

Commentators often troll players by saying they can build homes with the number of bricks they shoot. And some creative fans even make basketball brick memes viral on the internet. 

So, for your entertainment, we’ve compiled a list of the players who are famous for shooting bricks: 

Shaquille O’Neal 

There’s no denying Shaq is one of the most dominant players ever to play basketball. The man had a killer hook shot and even more menacing power dunks. And he scored most of his career 23.7 ppg average using just these two shots. 

Just don’t ask about his contributions in the charity swipe, as he’s an infamously lousy free-throw shooter. He’s arguably one of the biggest bricklayers from the free-throw line in league history. 

His struggles at the line are so well-known that opposing teams even foul him on purpose just so they don’t have to face him in the paint. 

Ben Wallace 

Perhaps there’s something about the size and muscle of big men that makes it so difficult to control their shots because some of the most famous free-throw line bricklayers are big men. Ben Wallace, for example, is another big man who Shaq had to battle in the 90s and early 2000s is another infamous bricklayer in the NBA. 

While he wasn’t a prolific scorer, his free-throw shots are arguably some of the worst in league history. All of his shots were either too strong or too weak, resulting in a dismal 42% in career free-throw shooting rate.  

Russell Westbrook 

Of course, smaller players aren’t immune to shooting bricks. In fact, one of the most famous bricklayers of modern basketball is the Lakers’ point guard Russell Westbrook.  

He’s not exactly a bad shooter. He’s even won the MVP and a couple of scoring titles in his prime. However, in the latter stage of his career, he’s been missing a lot of shots badly, especially from the three-point line. 

His shooting struggles were particularly highlighted when the Lakers acquired him in 2021. In that season, he shot 29% on 3.4 three-point attempts. While the percentage isn’t the worst in the NBA, the amount shots he attempts from downtown has people questioning his basketball IQ.  

Luckily, his move to the bench in the 2022 season seems to work for the Lakers, as his three-point averages have gotten a bit better. Hopefully, his performance this season will help fans forget the nickname they gave him – Westbrick. 

3 Worst Brick Shots in NBA History 3 Worst Brick Shots in NBA History 

The NBA has plenty of other bricklayers throughout its long and storied history. But, there are plenty of memorable moments or stretches where players bricked their shots so hard that it became part of their legend. 

Kobe Bryant in the 1997 Playoffs 

The 1997 playoffs were among the best postseasons the NBA has ever seen. The Chicago Bulls were in the middle of their second threepeat, and Jordan was at the peak of his powers.  

Kobe Bryant was a young up-and-comer on the Los Angeles Lakers, and it would have been a dream come true for many basketball fans for him and Michael Jordan to go head to head in the Finals series.  

Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant had an off night in the Western Conference Finals against the Jazz, where he shot four bricks in the closing minutes of Game 5. If Kobe had led the Lakers to a win in that series, we could have seen an epic matchup between him and Jordan in the Finals. 

On the bright side, however, this will be credited as a milestone in Bryant’s career.  


Bryant isn’t the only Laker legend to have a reputation for being a brick basketball player in the crucial moments of the game. Shaquille O’Neal is also famous for not being able to sink shots for the Lakers. 


Opponents even devised the hack-a-Shaq strategy to exploit his lack of free-throw shooting skills. Even worse, this would bother him for the rest of his career, with tons of basketball brick memes being made about it. 

Michael Jordan’s Game-Tying or Game-Winning Bricks 

Missed shots are a part of basketball–even for the greats. Michael Jordan, one of the greatest players to ever play the game, is no exception. In fact, throughout his illustrious career, Jordan missed quite a few big shots, such as in Game 1 of the 1991 Finals. 


However, he always managed to bounce back and use those misses as motivation to improve. As a result, Jordan became one of the greatest scorers of all time and one of the most clutch players in history. So, next time you shoot bricks at the hoop, remember even MJ missed sometimes. And if he can come back from those misses, then so can you. 

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Brick in Basketball? 

There’s nothing quite like shooting a brick in the NBA. The sound of the ball bouncing off the rim, the look of confusion on the player’s face, and the inevitable laughter from the crowd. It’s all part of the game.  

But while shooting bricks may be common, it shouldn’t define a player’s legacy. There are plenty of ways to improve your skillset and prevent shooting bricks.  

For one, make sure you’re using the proper shooting technique. If your form is off, you’re more likely to miss it. Secondly, practice shooting often to get a feel for the basket. And lastly, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If you’re angry or frustrated, take a step back and calm down before shooting.  

Remember, even the GOATs have bricked some of their shots in the game’s biggest stages. So don’t get discouraged if you shoot a brick or two in a game. It’s all part of the process!

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

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Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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