NBA Legends: Rick Barry
Rick Barry has the honor of being one of the few players to participate in the NCAA, the ABA, and the NBA. During his time as a small forward on the basketball courts, Barry was a huge personality with a massive following.
This legend has had a lot of influence over the games and would create a massive change in the NBA spreads if you saw him noted to play.
Rick Barry’s Early Years
Barry had always been a fan of sports, and although he would play basketball from a young age, it was football that took his child-like heart. Barry would idolize Willie Mays from the New York Giants and wear his number, 24, in every court he could. Even as a professional, Barry continued to keep Mays in his heart.
Barry joined the University of Miami due to their coach Bruce Hale. Hale preferred the pro-style system which matches Barry’s own desires. As a senior, Barry led his college team to a 37.4 ppg average.
In the drafts, Barry was picked second and joined the San Francisco Warriors. He was hoping to join the New York Knicks, to play with his hometown legends. It was here that we saw the first sign of Barry’s defiant personality. This slight is one which he never forgave.
The Rookie Year
With Barry on board with the San Francisco Warriors, the change in the team’s skill was instantly noticeable. They ended their last season with 17 victories, but Barry pulled them up to 35. They went all the way to the playoffs. His amazing skill put Barry into the All-Star Game during his rookie year. He was playing with the greatest players of his time and matching them.
Barry was given the NBS Rookie of the Year award for averaging 25.7 ppg and 10.6 rpg. Just a year later he was given the NBA All-Star Most Valuable Player award for his 38.6 scoring average. It wasn’t long for broadcasters to give this instant legend a nickname. Dubbed the “Miami Greyhound”, Barry was known for his whippet-like quickness, slender build, and sharp eye thinking.
In 1967, Barry brought the Warriors to the NBA Finals. Although they lost, this was the closest the Warriors had been to the championship in years. Barry finished that season with a 40.8 ppg average. This final score stood as the highest ever for 3 decades!
A Shocking ABA Move
Despite Barry’s amazing skill, the San Francisco Warriors were underpaying him. Through the decisions of owner Franklin Mieuli, Barry was not given his fair share of the money. Barry knew his worth and decided to leave the Warriors and find a team that would pay him a salary that matches his skills.
To everyone’s surprise, this team was in the ABA. Barry was switching leagues. This had never happened before! He joined the Oakland Oaks in a three-year contract worth $500,000 – that’s roughly $4,304,000 in 2022. Barry became one of the highest-paid basketball players of his time, was able to play with his former college coach (and father-in-law) Bruce Hale and received 15% ownership of Oakland Oaks too!
Due to a reserve clause in his contract, Barry wasn’t allowed to play in the 1967-1968 games. The Warriors used this time to slander Barry’s name, making him out to be a money-hungry player who didn’t care for the game. But many NBA players were looking at the ABA for the opportunity to earn a better wage and stay on a team for longer than 1 year.
Career Scores And Titles
Throughout his career, Barry was making changes and breaking records. He ended his 15-year career with 25,279 points (24.8 ppg), 6,863 rebounds (6.7 rpg), and 4,952 assists (4.9 apg).
His titles are numerous. He is an NBA champion and an ABA champion. He won the NBA Finals MVP, Scoring Champion, and Rookie of the Year. Most impressively he was almost always on the All-Star team or the NBA First Team.
Barry has done a lot in his basketball career, but his beginning years really show off his spirit and talent.