Legends Spotlight: Rick Barry

June 19, 2017

How did you get involved with the Big3 League? Well interestingly enough, I got a call from a friend of mine in New York and he asked me if this is something I would be interested in and it just came out of the blue that way. Then I wound up getting to talk to Jeff [Kwatinetz] and to [Ice] Cube. After reviewing it, taking a look at it and seeing what they had in store, I said, “You know, this looks like it could make some sense... If I was done playing and I still really felt like I wanted to get out there and do something in halfway decent shape; is this something I’d want to do? Heck, this could be fun! Once a week, 3-on-3, why not?” So I made the commitment and I’m glad that I did. These guys have done a great job of putting this together in a relatively short period of time. I was very impressed when I went to the tryouts in Las Vegas to see the competitive aspect of it, the kind of shape a lot of these guys are in, how competitive it’s going to be, and how fast-paced it will be. I think it’s going to be something the fans will enjoy.

That was going to be my next question; how do you think this league will be received by fans, especially coming off of the NBA Finals and craving more basketball? Like I said it’s going to be really fast-paced because the ball is taken out once a team scores. They get the ball right there at half court and boom, there’s action again! It’s really high-paced and competitive; these guys are after it! They’ve got the four-point shot, which I was curious to see how that worked. Some guys were making some four-point shot and it changes the whole dynamic of the game. You might be up seven and all of a sudden a guy makes a four-pointer and now you’re only up three; it really does change a lot of things in that regard. I think the fans will respond to it. Plus the fact that they’ll get to see a lot of different players, they’ll get to see four games in one day, and I think they’ll enjoy it, I really do. Only time will tell, but I was impressed with what I saw and how much impact I’ll have as a coach. I was thrilled when I told Jeff and Cube, “Who the hell came up with the name for my team?! The Ball Hogs?” Come on [laughter]!

What’s the team dynamic at this point? Have you begun to practice or get together? It’s not like you’re all getting together. I mean this is basic basketball. This is the premise of what basketball is about. Basketball, even in the full court game, generally evolves into whether it’s one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three. Certainly there will be some one-on-one stuff going on but obviously you want to screen, you want to screen to the ball, you want to screen away from the ball, you want to do some cutting, you want to do some passing; you just want to play good, sound, fundamental basketball. And hopefully whichever guys are shooting the ball are going to shoot it well because that’s what it all comes down to.

Speaking of shooters, Brian Scalabrine is going to be your team captain. Is there anybody on your team who we should keep an eye on this summer? Or do you feel that you will generate more team basketball? I think we’re going to try to play team basketball. We don’t have any big-huge names on our team. It’s not like we’ve got Allen Iverson on our team or some of these other guys who were all-star players. We’re kind of the underdogs; a bunch of guys who really didn’t make a big name for themselves in the game but who all can play. So it’ll be fun to see what evolves from this and we’ll just play the guys who are playing well; there’s five guys on a team, so there will be some substitutions and we’ll figure it out. The captains were kind of like the focal point of the teams because [the league] chose the captains and the captains chose the co-captains to be on their team. Then the draft came and obviously Scalabrine had a lot to say about what he wanted to do. Then based upon how I perceived these guys when I saw them playing in these tryouts; I’m obviously not going to draft a guy who’s not in shape [laughter], I just wanted to see how they played. I think we have some good, sound fundamental guys and we’ll see how it plays out.

You have coaching experience dating back to 1992 with the Cedars Rapid Sharpshooters of the Global Basketball Association: What is it about coaching that you love compared to playing the game? The difference is that when you’re a player, you have the responsibility to go out and play and do as well as you can do. I’ve found that a coach is a salesman: you have to be able to sell your team on what it takes to win. And I know what it takes to win, I’ve been there, I’ve experienced that.



In your role as a NBRPA Board of Director, how do you help the NBRPA to fulfill its mission to assist former players in their transition into life after the game as well as impact communities and youth through basketball? The Retired Players Association puts together many great programs that are beneficial to guys who decide if they want to use them or not, and feel that they need some guidance, help or assistance. The biggest thing for me has always been that in order to be able to do the type of things that you like to be able to do for the Association, you have to find ways to get sponsors and raise money. So that has been my biggest goal and to also look out for us. I work very hard alongside guys who were on the board years back who were fighting forever to get the pension funded. That was a huge accomplishment. The other one was the health plan, and now we have that. I also, to date, have brought in the biggest money-making program to the NBRPA to help raise funds and be able to do the type of things I’m talking about.

I think also where the focus has to be in giving back to the community. The Association right now, and I’ve been around longer than anybody, is at a point where it has never been before. It has never experienced this type of success and growth, and hopefully it will continue.

As you mentioned, you’ve been at the NBRPA since day one. Why is the Retired Players Association so important to you? First of all, I think that not everybody is fortunate enough to be able to make a plan that works to prepare themselves properly for the future. These are all guys, and of course we have the WNBA and the Globetrotters as well, that were all part of something that was such an integral part of my life. So to be able to stay associated with them, it’s kind of like having friends from back in high school days. I went back for a 50th anniversary and it was really cool to see all these people who I spent part of my life with. Well I spent more of my life with my NBA brethren and my ABA brethren. So to have an opportunity to get together and see what guys are doing; and for those who are less fortunate, those who have made some mistakes in their lives or those who have some difficult times, to be able to know that you can do something to help them better their life and their family’s life is a very rewarding situation.

Why do you think former players should join the NBRPA? They just have to understand that it’s an opportunity to give back and help your fellow brethren; to help your guys, your contemporaries, the guys who were apart of the history of what this sport is and what it’s done for them. What all these guys before them have done has provided them with the most amazing life possible. So to have them involved, it can eventually get to the point where they can start doing more things for those less fortunate, do more community related stuff, help out the kids growing up and help guys who have foundations. They’re all going to be multi-millionaires eventually because the guys like me, we’re going to be gone. The guys who are going to be in the Association are guys who have made millions of dollars. So for those guys to be involved and know that you can do something meaningful and worthwhile, why not? Also to be able to just get together every once in a while and be able to tell stories and reminisce about the wonderful times that you had for such an important and exciting time in your life. So hopefully they’ll understand that and realize that there’s an opportunity to do something meaningful.

I’m going to get you out of here on a fun question. If you had to build an all-time Big3 team, which players would you choose? Wow that would be interesting! That would be hard for a team of three. I’d probably take Wilt [Chamberlain] to be my big guy. If I were to play with these guys, I would probably take Michael [Jordan] and Magic [Johnson]. Magic or Oscar [Robertson] would be one of the guys that I would take. That’s a hard decision. The only reason why Magic pops up is because it’s not full court where you’re running all the time; certainly, Oscar would be the guy for that. I would have a hard time choosing between Oscar and Magic. The other guy that I might take [off the bench] would be, just for fun, I might have to take Steph Curry for that four-point shot [laughter]. That’s my five-man team. On a five-man team I would definitely want to have Steph.