Richard Francis Dennis Barry III (born March 28, 1944) is an American retired professional basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association (ABA) and National Basketball Association (NBA). Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in history by the NBA in 1996, Barry ranks among the most prolific scorers and all-around players in basketball history and is the only one to lead the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), ABA, and NBA in points per game in a season. His 36.3 points per game are the most in the NBA Finals history, and he is the only player to reach the 50-point mark in a Game 7 of the playoffs in either league. Barry the all-time leading scorer (30.5 points per game) in ABA history. He is one of four players to be a part of championship teams in both leagues.
Barry is widely known for his unorthodox but extraordinarily effective underhand free throw technique. His career .880 free throw percentage ranks No. 1 in ABA history, and at the time of his retirement in 1980, his .900 percentage was the best of any NBA player. In 1987, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Early years and college career
Barry grew up in Roselle Park, New Jersey, where baseball was his best sport as a youth. He grew up a fan of local New York Giants star Willie Mays, who wore jersey number 24, and he would wear that number in tribute to the outfielder throughout his basketball career. In 1962, Barry graduated from Roselle Park High School.
Barry decided to attend the University of Miami, largely because the Hurricanes adhered to an up-tempo, pro-style system under head coach Bruce Hale that was conducive to his skills and athleticism. It was there that the three-time All-American met his future wife Pamela, who was the daughter of the head coach. As a senior in the 1964–65 campaign, Barry led the NCAA with a 37.4 points-per-game average. He and the team did not take part in the NCAA Tournament, however, because the Hurricanes basketball program was on probation at the time. Barry is one of just two basketball players to have his number retired by the school.
Barry was drafted by the San Francisco Warriors with the second pick of the 1965 NBA draft. He had hoped to be selected by the New York Knicks, his hometown team, but they opted for local Princeton star Bill Bradley in round one instead. It was a slight that Barry would not soon forget. In his second game versus the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, he went off for 57 points, including 21 free throws in 22 attempts, to go with 15 rebounds.
Professional playing career
San Francisco Warriors
In Barry's first season in the NBA with the Warriors, the team made a quantum leap from 17 to 35 victories and were in playoff contention until the final game of the regular season. In the All-Star Game one season later, Barry erupted for 38 points as the West team stunned the East team, 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.
Nicknamed the "Miami Greyhound" by longtime San Francisco-area broadcaster Bill King because of his slender physical build, whippet-like quickness and remarkable 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. Along with All-Star center Nate Thurmond, Barry carried the Warriors to the 1967 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in six games. Including a heroic 55-point performance on an injured knee in a Game 3 victory, Barry averaged 40.8 points per game in the series, an NBA Finals record that lasted three decades.
At odds with Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli over unpaid incentive monies due him, Barry jumped to the ABA's Oakland Oaks, who overwhelmed him with a three-year contract offer that was unheard of at the time. Not only was the agreement reported to be worth $500,000, which would make him one of basketball's highest-paid players, but it afforded him an opportunity to reunite with Hale, who came aboard as Oaks head coach. In addition, Barry received 15 percent ownership in the franchise as well as 5 percent of all ticket sales in excess of $600,000 for home games. The ground-breaking deal led him to remark, "The offer Oakland made me was one I simply couldn't turn down."
The courts ordered Barry to sit out the 1967–68 season before he starred in the ABA, upholding the validity of the reserve clause in his contract. He preceded St. Louis Cardinals' outfielder Curt Flood, whose better-known challenge to the reserve clause went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, by two years as the first American major-league professional athlete to bring a court action against it. The ensuing negative publicity cast Barry in a negative light, portraying him as selfish and money hungry. He was hardly alone, however, as numerous NBA players also saw the rival league as a rare opportunity to enhance their careers and earning power.
Barry became the first marquee player to jump to the American Basketball Association when he signed with the Oakland Oaks after the 1966–67 season. 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.
No sooner did Barry return to the court in the 1968–69 season than he averaged an ABA-high 34.0 points per game and the Oaks became the first West Coast team to capture a league championship in pro basketball history. He also paced the ABA in free-throw percentage in the regular season, a feat he would repeat in the 1970–71 and 1971–72 seasons. However, on December 27, 1968, late in a game against the New York Nets, Barry was blindsided by Ken Wilburn on a drive to the basket and tore ligaments in his left knee on the play. He attempted to come back in January, only to aggravate the injury and sit out the remainder of the season. Barry took part in 35 games but still was named to the ABA All-Star team.
Even without the best player in the league, the Oaks barely missed a beat. They finished with a 60-18 record, dominating the Western Division by 14 games over the second-place New Orleans Buccaneers. In the 1969 ABA Playoffs, the Oaks ousted the Denver Rockets in a seven-game series then swept the Buccaneers in the Western Division finals. In the championship round, they made short work of the Indiana Pacers, 4-1, to capture the league title.
Despite their on-court excellence, the Oaks were a disappointment at the gate, largely because they were the only ABA team that competed in the same market as an NBA team, that being the more established Warriors across the bay. They averaged just 2,800 fans per home game at the state-of-the-art Oakland County Coliseum Arena. By that time, entertainer-business entrepreneur Pat Boone had become the majority team owner, and after more than $2 million in losses over two seasons, he had enough. In August, 1968, the franchise was sold to a group headed by real estate attorney and former Baltimore Bullets owner Earl Foreman, who immediately moved it to Washington, D.C., even though there was no suitable arena in the vicinity at the time.
Reluctantly, Barry played the 1969–70 season with the ABA's Washington Caps. He refused to report to the team at the outset, at one point commenting, "If I wanted to go to Washington, I'd run for president!" He missed the first 32 games before he join the team, which played in the Western Division, making for a grueling travel schedule. The Caps still managed to finish with a respectable 44–40 record, good for third place in the Western Division. Appearing in only 52 games because of a knee injury, Barry finished the season with 1,442 points (27.7 per game), second best in the league. The Denver Rockets edged the Caps, 4-3, in the Western Division semifinals. In Game 7 on the road, Barry went off for 52 points, the most scored in a seventh and deciding game in pro basketball history.
The Washington Caps became the Virginia Squires after the 1969–70 season, but Barry was openly despondent about playing in Virginia. At the same time, he wanted to continue playing in the ABA. 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 denounced the Squires (and, subsequently, never suited up for them), 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 were not the primary reason; rather, Squires owner Earl Foreman was mired in financial troubles and sold Barry to help meet expenses.
New York Nets
After the Squires dealt Barry to the New York Nets, he played in only 59 games in the 1970–71 season because of 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 68–16 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 4–3 game 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 judge 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 returned to the Warriors.
Golden State Warriors
Upon Barry's return to the Warriors and the NBA, the cumulative effects of knee problems were taking their toll. Barry gradually moved his game away from the basket, becoming more of a perimeter shooter and ball distributor. The Warriors ran one of the few offenses in basketball where a forward (Barry) was the primary ball-handler. On March 26, 1974, Barry scored a career-high 64 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 143–120 win over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers.
Two seasons later (1974–75), the Warriors captured the division crown as Barry averaged 30.6 points per game and led the league in free throw percentage (.904) and steals per game (2.9). He also was sixth in assists per game (6.2), the only forward among the top 10 in the category.
In the playoffs, the upstart Warriors turned back the Seattle SuperSonics and Chicago Bulls to capture the Western Conference crown. In the NBA Finals, they shocked the basketball world with a historic four-game sweep of Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld and the Washington Bullets, widely considered to be the greatest postseason upset in NBA history. The Bullets had posted a league-high 60 victories, 12 more than the Warriors total in the regular season, which led many experts to predict that they would win the series easily. Barry was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player on the strength of 29.5 points, 5.0 assists and 3.5 steals per game, not to mention his profound impact in a leadership role.
In the 1975 NBA draft, the Warriors selected point guard Gus Williams in the first round. It wasn't long before Phil Smith came into his own at shooting guard. No longer did Barry have to carry the team most games, and his scoring average dipped to 21.0 points per game as a result. As the deepest and most athletic team in basketball, the Warriors repeated as Pacific Division champions, this time with a league-best 59-23 record. They entered the playoffs as a clear-cut favorite to return to the NBA Finals.
After an unusual 10-day layoff, partly to accommodate network television, the Warriors eliminated the Detroit Pistons in round one then were upset in the Western Conference finals by the Phoenix Suns in seven games. The final contest was marred by a fight between Barry and Suns rookie Ricky Sobers away from the ball in the first quarter, during which none of the Warriors came to his aid at the opposite side of the court. Suns broadcaster Al McCoy concocted a narrative that Barry quit in the second half, a charge that lacked tangible evidence and he steadfastly denied. In fact, Barry led his team in points and shot attempts that game. Rather, he said his intent was to get more teammates involved in the third quarter, the game plan that had allowed them to dominate in the regular season. 
In the 1976-77 campaign, the Warriors won 46 games the next season with Barry, Smith, and Williams sharing scoring and ball-handling, but were ousted in the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers. Reportedly, Barry and Williams clashed over the ball-handling role, and Williams was traded after the season to the Seattle SuperSonics. Barry then averaged 23.1 ppg in his last season with the Warriors (1977-78) but the team did not make the playoffs and he left as a free agent for the Houston Rockets.
Barry ended his career with the Houston Rockets, playing through the 1979–80 NBA season. Barry was signed by the Rockets as a free agent before the 1978–79 season. The league awarded John Lucas to the Warriors as compensation. Now in the twilight of his career, he pioneered the "point forward" position as a ball distributor (passing for a career-high 502 assists) and three-point threat. Until the arrival of Larry Bird, Barry, John Havlicek, and Billy Cunningham were the only players in NBA history to pass for more than 500 assists while primarily playing the forward position. 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.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Won an NBA championship||*||Led the league|
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. In 1998 and 1999, he served as head coach of the New Jersey ShoreCats of the United States Basketball League. Former Warriors teammate Clifford Ray was his top assistant.
Barry is part owner and promoter for the Ektio basketball shoe, which doctor and former college basketball player Barry Katz designed to reduce ankle injuries. He also serves on the company's Board of Directors.
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 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.
While working as a CBS analyst during Game 5 of the 1981 NBA Finals, Barry made a controversial comment when CBS displayed an old photo of colleague Bill Russell, who is African-American, and Barry joked that "it looks like some fool over there with that big watermelon grin". Barry later apologized for the comment, claiming that he did not realize that a reference to watermelons would have racial overtones. Russell said that he believed Barry with regard to Barry's racial attitudes, but nonetheless, the two men are reported not to have been particularly friendly for other reasons, unrelated to that comment.
CBS did not renew Barry's employment for the subsequent season, with producers later citing the overall negative tone of Barry's game commentary. The next season, Barry did some broadcasting for the Seattle SuperSonics, however a plan for permanent employment fell through when Barry insisted that his then-wife be allowed to join him when the team was on the road, which would have been contrary to team policy. The next year, Barry was featured in a lengthy Sports Illustrated article written by Tony Kornheiser in which he lamented the failure of his broadcasting career to that point, as well as the fact that he'd left a reputation within NBA circles for being an unlikable person. After this, Barry worked with TBS and later on, TNT into the 1989–90 season, mostly as a color analyst but sometimes as a play-by-play announcer paired with Bill Russell. One of the more notable games Barry called as play-by-play announcer on TBS was Game 5 of the 1985 Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers, where Larry Bird made a last second steal which sealed the win and the Eastern Conference Championship for the Celtics. After the 1989–90 season, Barry became the color analyst for the Atlanta Hawks' games that aired on TBS, paired with Skip Caray.
In a rare non-sports venture, he hosted the pilot for the mid-1980s game show Catchphrase; however, when the series debuted in the fall of 1985, game show veteran Art James replaced him (the series itself was short-lived in the US, but was brought over to the UK and is still running).
In September 2001, Barry began hosting a sports talk show on KNBR 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.
He has four sons and a daughter with his first wife Pam: Scooter, Jon, Brent, Drew and Shannon. All of Barry's sons were professional basketball players. Barry wrote an autobiography, Confessions of a Basketball Gypsy: The Rick Barry Story with Bill Libby that was published in 1972. He also has a son, Canyon, with his third wife, Lynn Barry, who is a professional player, playing for Chinese club Hunan Jinjian Miye in the 2018–19 season.
When his son Brent won the NBA Championship in 2005 with the San Antonio Spurs, Rick and Brent became the second father-son duo to both win NBA Championships as players, following Matt Guokas Sr. and Matt Guokas Jr.. Later, this would be repeated by Bill and Luke Walton, and Mychal and Klay Thompson.
Jon and Brent have also moved to broadcasting after retirement. Jon serves as a game analyst on ESPN while Brent worked as a studio and game analyst on TNT and NBA TV until 2018 when he took a job with the San Antonio Spurs to be vice president of basketball operations.
- Roselle Park High School – Roselle Park, New Jersey (1957–1961)
- Two-time All-State selection
- University of Miami (1961–1965)
- NBA San Francisco Warriors (1965–1967)
- ABA Oakland Oaks (1968–1969)
- ABA Washington Caps (1969–1970)
- ABA New York Nets (1970–1972)
- NBA Golden State Warriors (1972–1978)
- NBA Houston Rockets (1978–1979)
- All-NBA First Team (1966, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1976)
- Eight time NBA All-Star (1966, 1967, 1973–1978)
- ABA All-Star First Team (1969–1972)
- NBA 50 Greatest Players (1996)
- Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (1988)
- Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey (1994)
- University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame (1976)
- 15 games in NBA career scoring 50 or more points (5th in NBA history)
- 115 games in professional career scoring 40 or more points — 70 NBA, 45 ABA (4th in professional basketball history after Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant)
- Led the NCAA in scoring in 1964–65 (973 points, 37.4 ppg)
- Led the NBA in scoring in 1966–67 (2,775 points, 35.6 ppg)
- Led the ABA in scoring in 1968–69 (1,190 points; 34.0 ppg)
Youngest player to score 57 points in a game: 21 years, 261 days (57 points, San Francisco Warriors at New York Knicks, December 14, 1965)
Scoring 30 or more points in all games, any playoff series: 6 games, vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1967 NBA Finals
Field goal attempts, 6-game series: 235, vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1967 NBA Finals
Field goal attempts, game: 48, vs. Philadelphia 76ers, April 18, 1967
Field goal attempts, quarter: 17, at Philadelphia 76ers, April 14, 1967
Steals, quarter: 4, second quarter, at Chicago Bulls, May 11, 1975
- Tied with many other players
Highest scoring average (career): 36.3
Scoring 30 or more points in all games, any championship series: 6 games, vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1967 NBA Finals
- Elgin Baylor, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kevin Durant also achieved this feat.
Field goals made, game: 22, vs. Philadelphia 76ers, April 18, 1967
- Tied with Elgin Baylor
Field goal attempts, 6-game series: 235, vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 1967 NBA Finals
Field goal attempts, game: 48, vs. Philadelphia 76ers, April 18, 1967
Field goal attempts, quarter: 17, at Philadelphia 76ers, April 14, 1967
Steals, 4-game series: 14, vs. Washington Bullets, 1975 NBA Finals (3.5 spg)
Field goal attempts, game: 27 (1967)
Steals, game: 8 (1975)
Disqualifications, career: 2
- Tied with Bob Cousy
- American Basketball Association (2000–present)
- List of individual National Basketball Association scoring leaders by season
- List of National Basketball Association players with most points in a game
- List of National Basketball Association players with most steals in a game
- List of National Basketball Association players with 50 or more points in a playoff game
- List of NCAA Division I men's basketball players with 2000 points and 1000 rebounds
- "Rick Barry". NBA.com. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
- "Hall of Famers". Basketball Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
- The Ultimate New Jersey High School Year Book. 1998.
- Miami Hurricanes 2011-12 media guide. Retrieved on January 5, 2012.
- via United Press International."Barry Accepts $500,000 Contract; He Quits N.B.A. for 3-Year Pact With Oakland Five", The New York Times, June 21, 1967. Accessed September 1, 2010.
- "Warriors Upheld on Option Clause; Court Rules Barry is Bound to Club One More Year". The New York Times. United Press International. August 9, 1967. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Hollander, Dave (November 24, 2013). "Big Jerk, Bigger Hero". Slate. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- Sports Illustrated. August 24, 1970 http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/cover/featured/8192/index.htm – via sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Missing or empty
- "Rick Barry Returns To The Warriors". diva.sfsu.edu. KRON-TV. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
- "Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors Box Score, March 26, 1974". Basketball-Reference. March 23, 2020.
- "Sit Up And Take Notice". CNN. January 18, 1982.
- "Barry to Coach" (AP). The New York Times. October 30, 1992.
- "RE/MAX World Championship's 2005". Morgan Studios.
- Heitner, Darren. "Professor of Sport Agency Management at Indiana University". Forbes. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
- Cook, Bob (June 2004). "Kick Out the Sports!". Flak Magazine.
- Thornton, Jerry (September 21, 2005). "Sportscasters Gone Wild". Barstool Sports. Archived from the original on May 9, 2006.
- Kornheiser, Tony. (April 25, 1983). "A Voice Crying In The Wilderness", Sports Illustrated
- "Telepictures' "Catch Phrase" (page 120)" (PDF). Broadcasting [date=1985-01-14.
- "Barry leaves afternoon radio show at KNBR". San Francisco Chronicle. August 14, 2006.
- Gordon, Amanda. "A Basketball Legend Scores for Migdal Ohr and Children of Israel". NYSun.com. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
- Barry, Rick; Libby, Bill (January 1972). Confessions of a Basketball Gypsy: The Rick Barry Story. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0131674455.
- "Spurs announce basketball operations staff additions and promotions". NBA.com. September 17, 2018. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- "San Antonio Spurs hire Brent Barry as vice president of basketball operations". NBA.com. September 17, 2018. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
- Basketball Hall of Fame profile
- Rick Barry profile at NBA Encyclopedia at the Wayback Machine (archived April 27, 2006)
- RememberTheABA.com Rick Barry page
- 1972 Jim O'Brien biographical article on Rick Barry
- Rick Barry and Rod Brooks Home Page at KNBR Radio
- Rick Barry Career Statistics
- A Voice Crying in the Wilderness