Richard (Rick) Francis Dennis Barry III (born March 28, 1944, in Elizabeth, New Jersey) is a retired American professional Basketball player. He is considered by many veteran basketball observers to be the greatest pure small forward of all time as a result of his very precise outside shot, uncanny court vision, knowledge and execution of team defense principles, tenacious and ofttimes demanding will to win, and unorthodox but accurate underhanded "granny shot" free throw shooting. Barry is one of few elite players who have altered their games without losing effectiveness; he broke into the professional ranks as a rebounder and all-purpose points machine before he morphed into a primary ball distributor and lethal perimeter threat.

Early years and college career Edit

Barry grew up in Roselle Park, New Jersey, and was an All-American basketball player for the University of Miami, where he starred for three seasons. It was there that Barry met Pam Hale, the daughter of Hurricanes head coach Bruce Hale whom he later married. As a senior in the 1964-65 campaign, Barry led the NCAA with a 37.4 points-per-game average. Barry and the Hurricanes did not take part in the NCAA Tournament, however, because the basketball program was on probation at the time. Barry is one of just two basketball players (along with Tim James) to have his number retired by the school.

Barry was drafted by the San Francisco Warriors with the second pick of the first round and of the 1965 NBA Draft.

San Francisco Warriors Edit

In Barry's first season in the NBA with the Warriors, the team improved from 17 to 35 victories. In the All-Star Game one season later, Barry erupted for 38 points as the West team stunned the East squad, which featured Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and head coach Red Auerbach among other all-time greats. Later that season, Barry and company extended the mighty Philadelphia 76ers to six highly competitive games in the NBA Finals, something that Russell and the Boston Celtics could not do in the Eastern Conference playoffs. That 76ers team is considered to be one of the greatest in basketball history.

Nicknamed the "Miami Greyhound" by longtime San Francisco-area broadcaster Bill King because of his slender physical build and remarkable quickness and instincts, the 6'7" Barry won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award after averaging 25.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in the 1965-66 season. The following year, he won the 1967 NBA All-Star Game MVP award with a 38-point outburst and led the NBA in scoring with a 35.6 point per game average — which still ranks as the eighth- highest output in league annals. Teamed with star center Nate Thurmond in San Francisco, Barry helped take the Warriors to the 1967 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in six games. Including a 55-point outburst in Game 3, Barry averaged 40.8 points per game in the series, an NBA Finals record that stood for three decades.

Upset that he was not paid incentive monies that he believed due from Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli, Barry jumped to the ABA's Oakland Oaks, who offered him a lucrative contract and the chance to play for Bruce Hale, then his father-in-law. The courts ordered Barry to sit out the 1967-68 campaign before he starred in the ABA, twice averaging more than 30 points per game. The ensuing negative publicity cast Barry in a negative light, portraying him as selfish and money-hungry. However, many NBA players at the time were looking at jumping to the ABA for more lucrative contracts.

Oakland Oaks Edit

After the 1966-67 season, Barry became the first NBA player to jump to the American Basketball Association when he signed with the Oakland Oaks. In the ABA's first season, the Oaks were the only ABA team located in the same market as an NBA team (the Warriors). The Warriors went to court and prevented Barry from playing for the Oaks during the 1967-68 season. Barry instead worked on Oaks radio broadcasts during the ABA's first season.

During the 1968-69 season Barry suited up for the Oaks and averaged 34 points per game. He also led the ABA in free throw percentage for the season (a feat he repeated in the 1970-71 and 1971-72 seasons). However, on December 27, 1968, late in a game against the New York Nets, Barry and Kenny Wilburn collided and Barry tore ligaments in his knee. He tried to play again in January but only aggravated the injury and sat out the rest of the season, only appearing in 35 games as a result. Despite the injury Barry was named to the ABA All-Star team. The Oaks finished with a record of 60-18, winning the Western Division by 14 games over the second place New Orleans Buccaneers. In the 1969 ABA Playoffs the Oaks defeated the Denver Rockets in a seven game series and then defeated New Orleans in the Western Division finals. In the finals the Oaks defeated the Indiana Pacers 4 games to 1 to win the 1969 ABA Championship.

The Oaks' on-court success had not translated into solid attendance. The team averaged 2,800 fans per game. Instead of remaining in Oakland for another season to see if the championship would draw fans, the team was sold by owner Pat Boone and relocated to Washington, DC for the 1969-1970 season.

Washington Caps Edit

Barry played the 1969-1970 season with the ABA's Washington Caps. Barry did not like the move and refused to report to the team, at one point commenting, "If I wanted to go to Washington, I'd run for President!" He missed the first 32 games before the ABA forced him to join the team. The Caps played in the Western Division, making for a grueling travel schedule. The Caps finished 44-40, claiming third place in the Western Division. Appearing in only 52 games due to injury, Barry finished the season with 1,442 points, second best in the ABA (27.7 points per game). The Denver Rockets defeated the Caps, 4 games to 3, in the Western Division finals. As the seventh and deciding game drew to a close, Barry was ejected for fighting with Rockets players.

Virginia Squires Edit

The Washington Caps became the Virginia Squires after the 1969-1970 season, but traded Barry to the New York Nets in September 1970, just before the next season began, in exchange for draft picks and cash. Known for his intense, demonstrative personality, the outspoken Barry was no stranger to controversy in the new league. Featured on the August 24, 1970 cover of Sports Illustrated in a Squires jersey, he indicated that he would not return to the NBA if the league paid him "a million dollars a year." He also denounced the Squires, saying he did not want his kids growing up with a southern accent. On September 1, 1970, the Squires traded Barry to the New York Nets for a draft pick and $200,000. The negative comments weren't the primary reason; rather, Squires owner Earl Foreman was still bogged down by financial troubles and sold Barry to help meet his expenses.

New York Nets Edit

After the Squires dealt Barry to the New York Nets, he played in only 59 games in the 1970-71 season due to a knee injury but still made the ABA All Star team. He repeated as an ABA All Star during the 1971-72 season. During the 1970-71 season he led the league in scoring (29.4 points per game) and led the league again in 1971-72 with 31.5 points per game. In both of those years he also led the ABA in free throw percentage as he had in 1968-69. Barry also became the ABA record holder for most consecutive free throws in one game with 23.

In the 1970-71 season the Nets finished 40-44, good for fourth place in the Eastern Division and a place in the 1971 ABA Playoffs. The Virginia Squires defeated the Nets 4 games to 2 in the Eastern Division semifinals. The 1971-72 Nets finished the season at 44-40, making the 1972 ABA Playoffs by claiming third place in the Eastern Division, 24 games behind the 68-12 Kentucky Colonels. In the Eastern Division semifinals the Nets shocked the ABA by defeating the Colonels 4 games to 2. The Nets then eked out a 4 game to 3 victory over the Virginia Squires in the Eastern Division finals. The Nets were then edged by the Western Division champion Indiana Pacers, 4 games to 2, in the 1972 ABA Finals.

On June 23, 1972 a United States District Court judges issued a preliminary injunction to prohibit Barry from playing for any team other than the Golden State Warriors after his contract with the Nets ended. On October 6, 1972 the Nets released Barry and he signed with Golden State.

Golden State Warriors Edit

Barry then returned to the NBA, with the Golden State Warriors. As the cumulative effects of knee problems began to take their tolls, he gradually moved his game away from the basket with similar results. After Nate Thurmond was traded to the Chicago Bulls in return for center Clifford Ray prior to the 1974-75 campaign, Barry was never better in a leadership role. Considered to be no better than the third- or fourth-best team in the Pacific Division prior to the regular season, the Barry-led Warriors captured the division crown. Even though Barry averaged 30.6 points per game, led the league in free throw percentage (.904) and steals per game (2.9) and ranked sixth in assists per game (6.2), he was somehow overlooked in the Most Valuable Player vote. The snub only fanned the intense competitive fire in Barry, who promptly led his team to playoff series victories against the Seattle SuperSonics and Bulls. In the latter, they overcame a 3-2 deficit against a veteran-laden Bulls squad in a tense seven-game duel. In his finest hour, Barry and the Warriors shocked the basketball world in a dramatic four-game sweep of Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld and the Washington Bullets in the NBA Finals. The epic series remains arguably the greatest upset in professional basketball history, as the Bullets had posted a league-high 60 victories, 12 more than the Warriors total in the regular season. He was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.

Houston Rockets Edit

Barry closed his career with the Houston Rockets, playing through the 1979-80 NBA season. Barry was traded by the Warriors to the Rockets in return for John Lucas. Now in the twilight of his career, he pioneered the "point forward" position as a ball distributor and three-point threat. He averaged 13.5 points and set a new NBA record (since broken) with a .947 free throw percentage for the season. He retired in 1980.

Post-career honors Edit

Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in history by the NBA in 1996, Barry is the only player to lead the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), ABA and NBA in scoring for an individual season.

Against all oddsEdit

Barry ranks on the short list of greatest underdog players in basketball history, as his teams repeatedly overachieved despite marginal talent around him. Longtime NBA writer Paul Ladewski has referred to him as Ricky Balboa, a reference to Rocky Balboa, the prize fighter of motion picture fame who was at his best in the face of long odds.

Later years Edit

During the 1990s he coached the Cedar Rapids Sharpshooters of the Global Basketball Association and the Continental Basketball Association, guiding the Fort Wayne Fury to a 19-37 win-loss record in 1993-94.

Broadcasting careerEdit

Unusually articulate, insightful and straight-forward for his time, Barry was among the first professional basketball players to make a successful transition to the broadcasting profession. He began broadcasting during the 1967-68 season broadcasting Oakland Oaks games because of contractual matters that kept him off of the court. Barry continues to work in the field, a career that began with his own radio show in San Francisco and CBS while still an active player and then with TBS.

During Game 5 of the 1981 NBA Finals, while working as a CBS analyst, Barry made a controversial comment when CBS posted an old photo of colleague Bill Russell's on the Basketball: "Who’s the guy in the back row with the big watermelon smile?"

The nature of this comment was made all the more awkward when the cameras switched to a shot of the announcers seated courtside where Barry was smiling yet Russell remained sullen and silent. Barry's comments were considered to be racially insensitive (Russell is African American) and CBS did not renew Barry for the subsequent season.

As an announcer for TBS, Barry helped call the 1987 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. During that contest, he called one of Michael Jordan's dunks a "Chinese Superman". When asked what that meant, he replied, "It's because it had a slant to it." Barry was not disciplined for his remarks.

Despite these incidents, Barry has continued broadcasting, evidence that his knowledge of the game and insightful color commentary apparently outweighs fears that his occasional slip of the tongue might be considered offensive by some viewers. Currently, he co-hosts a basketball-related show on Sirius Satellite Radio.

In September 2001, Barry began hosting a sports talk show on KNBR-AM in San Francisco until June 2003, when KNBR paired him up with Rod Brooks to co-host a show named "Rick and Rod". The show aired on KNBR until August 2006, when Barry left the station abruptly for reasons not disclosed to the public.

Barry recently finished 2nd in his division at the 2005 World Long Drive Championship.

Career achievements Edit

  • All-NBA First Team (1966, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1976)
  • Eight time NBA All-Star (1966, 1967, 1973-78)
  • ABA All-Star First Team (1969-72)
  • NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team (1996)

Personal lifeEdit

Rick Barry has four sons, Scooter, Jon, Brent, Drew, all of whom are or have been professional basketball players. He also has a son named Canyon from his second wife, Lynn Barry.

With his son Brent winning the NBA Championship in 2005 and 2007 with the San Antonio Spurs, Rick and Brent have become only the second father-son duo to both win NBA Championships as players; the first was Matt Guokas, Sr. and his son, Matt Guokas, Jr.

See alsoEdit


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