Interview: NBA Legend Rick Barry on Refs Robbing Spurs of Title, Potential Heat Challengers
Rick Barry, the man from New Jersey who became the "Miami Greyhound" in college and went on to help bring the Golden State Warriors an NBA championship, still pays attention to the NBA and has opinions on seemingly every aspect of the game he loves.
He's been labeled outspoken, grumpy, and even cantankerous, but when you speak to the Hall of Famer at length, he is just compelling and, in many cases, just simply right.
Lately, Barry has been making waves with his opinion that the Spurs should have won in six games in the NBA finals against Miami because Miami's Ray Allen traveled before draining his dramatic three-pointer that sent Game 6 into overtime, kept the Heat alive, and eventually led to a Miami win that night followed by a series-clinching Game 7 victory for LeBron James and company.
According to Barry, there is no debate that Allen traveled--and he's surprised people didn't talk about it more.
"He definitely walked, just go watch the replay," Barry told Breitbart Sports. "I was shocked to be honest with you. In real time it happens so incredibly quickly and the official didn't even recognize it. But if you watch it from the overhead angle, you see he caught the ball, put a foot down, then stepped back and brought the foot he put down back parallel with the other foot to go up with his jump shot."
Barry has a point.
"That is a travel in anybody's game and rules, but I know some people say Rick Barry doesn't know what he's talking about," Barry said. "In actuality, the people making those comments don't know what they're talking about. They don't understand the rules of the game. You cannot establish a pivot foot, take a step, and bring the pivot foot back. Unfortunately, the NBA lets players get away with that all the time."
All that said, Barry believes Miami's back-to-back titles are still impressive.
"Give the Heat all the credit for taking advantage of things that went there way," Barry said.
Barry believes the Heat will be strong again this season with a legitimate chance at another title. He predicts the challengers will be Indiana and then a couple of clubs that have to answer some big questions first.
"Brooklyn can certainly be more formidable, but it's a little bit like the Lakers last year in that they're bringing in guys that you have to hope will stay healthy," Barry told Breitbart Sports. "I thought that the Lakers took a big gamble getting Dwight Howard coming off of big surgery to go with Steve Nash who had injury problems. It turned into a debacle for them but that doesn't mean that will happen with the Nets. They have some really outstanding veteran talent they brought to the team to go along with the personal they had."
The biggest "what if" team, to Barry, is the Chicago Bulls.
"If Derrick Rose loses a quarter to half a step off his quickness he had prior to his injury, I don't think he'll be the same player he was," Barry said. "A great deal of his success was predicated on his incredible athleticism and his quickness he had and it'll remain to be seen what happens."
One thing's for sure, Chicago will give it their all every night. "We know they'll be a tough team all the time because coach Thibodeau does a great job of getting that team to be tough defensively," Barry said. "Tibs will keep you in games all the time anyway. And they did quite well given the fact they didn't have Rose last season. If he's anywhere close to where he was they would be a factor."
The other team to concern Miami is Indiana. "The Pacers should have beaten the Heat," Barry contends. "I mean they did about everything you can conceivably do wrong in that one game to give the game away when LeBron walked in to get a layup which is almost beyond comprehension. Such an easy basket on a play like that in such a critical situation can't happen."
One quiet transaction this offseason, though, could play a big part in deciding things--Miami added a player who hasn't seen the floor much during his injury-plagued career.
"If Greg Oden gives them quality time they'll be very difficult to beat," Barry said.
Rick Barry's life in basketball has been a successful ride to say the least. One of the top small forwards in history, he was named to the NBA list of the 50 Greatest Players in history in 1996. Well deserved. He did it all. The accolades include Rookie of the Year, All-Star, Finals MVP, World Champion, and more. Barry led the Warriors to the top of the heap in 1975, a place Golden State hasn't come close to since.
To Barry, the fact that the championship in 1975 came from out of nowhere makes it even more special.
"It was just an amazing accomplishment that we had put together from a team that was not even supposed to be a playoff team," Barry reminisced. "There wasn't anybody who picked us to do anything. Not only did we make the experts look like fools but we enjoyed every minute of it."
The pundits said Golden State would get swept by the Bullets in the Finals that year. They called it one of the biggest mismatches ever. In the end, they were right about one thing. There would be a sweep. Rick Barry's Warriors cruised by Washington in four straight games. A super team that never got its due. Even after sewing up the title.
"We didn't get invited to The White House, we didn't get a Sports Illustrated cover," Barry lamented. "I feel so badly for my teammates. I got the MVP of the series, but my teammates never got the recognition I felt they deserved."
Golden State's amazing championship season is one of the most overlooked accomplishments in major sports history, according to Barry.
"I defy anybody to find a team as big an underdog to achieve what we achieved and gotten the least amount of recognition," Barry said.
The passion Barry feels for his old teammates should come as no surprise. He puts his heart and soul into things. Free throw shooting to name just one. As for the current state of things at the charity stripe?
"It's pathetic," Barry said. "It's just time and effort. Practicing the proper way and having the confidence to put the ball in the basket. It's the easiest scenario in basketball. It's a 'free throw.' No one's trying to stop you, same distance, same-sized ball. How in the world do you live with yourself if you can't make four out of five and shoot 80% is beyond me."
With Barry, these words are not lip service. He shot a lusty 90% from the line during his NBA career with his unique underhanded approach.
Shooting form and hand placement is huge in hoops, but if you can't run or jump properly the point is moot. Barry recognizes this, and today he's putting in a lot of time and effort into promoting a shoe, specifically designed to keep players healthy.
Ektio produces a shoe with a premium on preventing ankle injuries. And Barry is sold. "It is without question the most technologically advanced shoe in the history of basketball," Barry said. "The shoe actually can help prevent the most prevalent injury in the game today."
Last season alone, 95 ankle injuries were reported in the NBA. That stat alone makes this shoe a no-brainer if you ask Barry, but he realizes players are a stubborn lot. "If you care about your career, why in the world would you not want to wear a shoe that prevents injury?" Barry wondered. Money most likely.
"I don't understand why one of the big names hasn't come along and purchased the rights to this company to market this shoe," said Barry. "It would be the most popular shoe because there's nothing out there that can come close to comparing to what it does."
Dollar signs seem to get in the way.
"The problem is that all those guys want to get paid, to wear shoes," Barry said. "All these guys are wearing the other shoes because those guys are paying them some money or they are giving them the free shoes. So they are more than happy to wear the shoe and they're not really thinking about the fact that there's an opportunity for a shoe that's out here that can actually help prevent ankle injury.
"I can assure you that if one of the big boys had this company and rights to this shoe and had this out on the market place, this is the shoe the players would wear because why would they not want to wear something that prevents you from injuring yourself. You can't tell me the coaches wouldn't want that model of shoe on their players. Of course they would. Because the kids wearing the shoe wouldn't sprain their ankle."
The Ektio push isn't just from Barry. Former NBA All-Star John Starks is also behind the shoe.
Amateur players wearing the shoe are raving about it. They're telling stories about what it's done for them. Of those surveyed, 40% said they shoot the ball better because they actually feel they have a more secure, firmer base to work from.
Even Barry's youngest son wore the shoe in high school. Canyon Barry, who is now at the College of Charleston and shooting free throws underhanded like dad, thrived with Ektio kicks.
"It really helped him and I knew it was for real because my son in the fussiest guy in the world," Barry said. "He wore it no problem and stopped wearing his ankle braces. He is a very high leaper and once he came down unbelievably awkwardly that nothing was going to prevent him from hurting himself. But, he didn't have any instability in his ankle base and the doctor credited the shoe."
Barry has worn the shoe too and loves it. Ankle woes can be a chronic problem. Just look at Warriors star Steph Curry. It becomes chronic. Barry believes he could help players if they'd try it.
Barry admits it will be difficult to crack into the huge shoe companies that rule the NBA not to mention the players psyches, but how can you count the "Greyhound" out?
If businessman Barry is anything like basketball Barry, look for Ektio to eventually be the 1975 Warriors of shoes.
Ryan Armstrong contributed to this article