Rick Barry may well be one of the 20 best NBA players ever. The slender 6' 7 star played well into the history of both the ABA and NBA in his career. He is the only player to have led the NCAA, NBA and ABA in scoring for a full season each. The New Jersey product played at Miami Of Florida, where he still holds a slew of records to date. Just 195 pounds when he was drafted by San Francisco, NBA observers doubted he could play forward in the mid-1960s. With Wilt Chamberlain declining his scoring output, Barry surged past him to lead the NBA in scoring at 35 points per game in his second season. Teamming with center Nate Thurmond, he led SF to the NBA Finals in 1966 and a shocking All-Star Game upset of the loaded East in 1967. Barry's game was about high energy, very good hops, and a ready shot that also led to a steady stream of free throw tries. " We had to use three guys to guard him, because he tired them all out ", said Philly's Chamberlain in 1966. When the Warriors welched on paying him bonus monies owed, an angry Barry signed with Oakland across the Bay in the ABA. Father-in-law Bruce Hale, a former NBL player in the late 40s was named his coach to get him to sign. The loaded Oakland Oaks won the ABA title in that league's second-ever season. Doug Moe, Warren Armstrong ( Jabali ), Gary Bradds and Larry Brown were among his teammates. The team had gone 60-18. Barry scored 34 points per game. The team became the Washington Capitols the following year after a sale. Barry again starred but missed the West Coast. With the team set to become the Virginia Squires the following year, Barry argued to get a trade to the New York Nets. His presence in NYC was unnerving to the rival NBA, starting a race to produce a champion between the two leagues. Barry was the biggest basketball star in the city, but the Knicks won the NBA title. With talks of a merger now going, the NBA maneuvered to bring Barry back to San Francisco. The team that had declined in his absence picked right back up. Barry's game had improved in the ABA to include impressive passing, ball-handling and defensive skills.He was now a solid 225 pounds as well. Known for his dead-eye underhand free throw flip, Barry surprised to lead the NBA in steals in 1973-74, the first year the stat was kept. In 1974-75, he averaged 30 points, five assists, two steals and 90% from the free throw stripe to lead the now-Golden State Warriors to the NBA title. He arguably should have been NBA MVP that year. The Warriors contended again the following year, but were upset by Phoenix in the playoffs. Barry finished his career in Rudy Tomjanovich's slot with the Houston Rockets as a passing forward. Between both leagues, he scored over 27,000 career points. Today, Barry works in broadcasting, and as a noted scout. Argumentative and very driven during his career, Barry has been passed over as a coach for decades, even as he had four sons that he developed into NBA players, including All-Star son Brent Barry, now a San Antonio Spur.



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Rick Barry

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