Ed Palubinskas is at home in a basketball gym.
One the most accurate shooters in the world, Palubinskas is also artistry in motion as he is changing the image of gyms around the world with his creative flair.
Palubinskas, 60, is spending several days in the St. Edmund gym placing his handiwork on the walls and floor of the new building.
He will then do a panther at McKinley High in Baton Rouge before heading to Colorado to paint a cougar at a school in Denver.
“It is neat to see how both of my skills have come together,” he said of his time as a shooting consultant and an artist. “But I regret that I never get to see their faces and hear the ‘wows’ the first time people walk in and see their gyms.”
Originally from Australia, Palubinskas started his collegiate career at Ricks Junior College where he led the U.S. in free throws with 92.4 percent in 1970.
He holds the record for the most consecutive free throws in a game—14 and 43 consecutive for the season.
He was also selected as an All-American that year while breaking most records at Ricks college which is now BYU-Idaho.
Palubinskas then transferred to LSU after playing in the 1972 Munich Olympics where he was second leading scorer, missing the Olympic scoring title by one point.
As LSU’s first international recruit under head coach Dale Brown, Palubinskas averaged 18.6 points per game and was selected to the All-SEC Coaches Team.
He was drafted in the third round of the 1975 draft by the Atlanta Hawks and was then traded to the New Orleans Jazz.
Palubinskas was the top overall scorer in the 1976 Montreal Olympics and set three Olympic scoring records including the most points scored in a single Olympics (269) – all without a three-point line. He also set a single-game record with 50 points against Mexico.
After graduating from LSU and a short stint in the NBA, Palubinskas also coached and played in Europe and Australia.
Palubinskas returned to Louisiana and coached at Central Private for four seasons (1992-1996) where he led the Rebels to three state championships.
He moved to become a shooting coach with the Los Angeles Lakers where he helped Shaquille O’Neal improve his well-known poor free-throw shooting skills up to 62.5 percent and win the 2001 NBA championship.
“It was the biggest turnaround in NBA history,” he said of his future Hall of Fame student. “What I taught him, I have taught others.
“I was always a good shooter at 93-94 percent and finished in the Top Ten in the history of the NCAA,” Palubinskas said. “But I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get better. But after a head-on collision when I was 30, all I had was time to think while I recovered including 14 days in the hospital.
“As I was rehabbing in a wheel-chair, I tried to figure out the hows and whys of shooting,” he said. “I figured out the process and did a scientific study on myself. As I recovered, I worked on those principles and have been shooting 99 percent ever since.”
On Monday at the Blue Jays’ gym, Palubinskas made 103 free throws in a row, including 20 while talking on a cell phone.
He once set a Guinness Book of World Record of 1,206 of 1,265 free throws in one hour and also held the world record for making eight free throws in two minutes while blindfolded.
“I am going for a new record of 2,400 free throws in 60 minutes shooting at the Great Wall of China in August,” he said.
But his skill as an artist didn’t really come to the forefront until he painted the Central Private gym floor and he realized he had a skill that other gyms needed.
“Back then, ESPN was just really starting and as I watched the games I noticed how boring and drab the gym floors were,” he said. “High school teachers and coaches don’t make much money so I sent out 500 postcards showing my artwork and I got a pretty good response.
“I made $30,000 in my first six weeks and I didn’t make that much as a teacher in a year,” Palubinskas said. “After all these years no one has ever asked me for my resume.”
And his work speaks for itself.