Why is Rick Barry seemingly so forgotten by modern NBA fans and analysts?
Whenever a list of the top SFs all time get mentioned, inevitably there’s Lebron and Bird, Dr J, KD and Pippen get mentioned, and sometimes Elgin Baylor, James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins and even Paul Pierce get thrown in.
..but what about Rick Barry?
For people who don’t know how much of a statistical beast Rick was, his playoff stats were monstrous:
1967 playoffs – 34.7 PPG / 7.5 RPG / 3.9 APG
1970 playoffs – 40.1 PPG / 10.0 RPG / 3.3 APG
1971 playoffs – 33.7 PPG / 11.7 RPG / 4.0 APG
1972 playoffs – 30.8 PPG / 6.5 RPG / 3.8 APG
1975 playoffs – 28.2 PPG / 5.5 RPG / 6.1 APG
1976 playoffs – 24.0 PPG / 6.5 RPG / 6.5 APG
1977 playoffs – 28.4 PPG / 5.9 RPG / 4.7 APG
He’s one of only 4 players to ever win a ring without another all star on his team (the others are Ben Wallace, Hakeem Olajuwon and Dirk Nowitzki)
He’s the only player to ever lead the NCAA, ABA AND NBA in scoring
He was the first SF that you could call a ‘point forward’ due to his passing ability
He had the highest FT% in history at the time he retired
“He was Larry Bird before Larry Bird” is what many fans who watched him play said about him
He has the highest scoring Finals Average of all time at 36 PPG, even beating out Michael Jordan’s 33 PPG
He has over 25k career points if you include his ABA stats
(which the NBA should and is baffling that they don’t because you know, they merged so ABA history should be part of NBA history)
He had “mamba mentality” way before Jordan/Kobe made it popular; He would never shy away from shooting a shot, he was psychologically competitive and he was tough on his teammates. The problem was, back in the 1970s this type of mentality was widely disliked and hence he was probably robbed of a few MVPs (which were voted on by players back then). Now, ironically we praise players with this kind of mentality.
Head to Head matchups versus other SF greats of the time:
Rick Barry vs Elgin Baylor
Barry – 28.2 / 9.8 / 3.1 / 44% FG%
Baylor – 19.4 / 9.5 / 2.4 / 42% FG%
Rick Barry vs Connie Hawkins
Barry – 23.4 / 6.9 / 5.7 / 45% FG%
Hawkins – 15.0 / 7.1 / 4.7 / 50% FG%
Rick Barry vs Billy Cunningham
Barry – 29.5 / 7.4 / 3.2 / 44% FG%
Cunningham – 16.5 / 9.6 / 3.5 / 44% FG%
Rick Barry vs Gus Johnson
Barry – 32.1 / cant find other stats on their h2h matchups
Gus – 19.4 / cant find other stats on their h2h matchups
Rick Barry vs Roger Brown
Barry – 28.5 / cant find other stats on their h2h matchups Brown – 21.4 / cant find other stats on their h2h matchups
Rick Barry vs Julius Erving
Barry – 24.7 / cant find other stats on their h2h matchups
Dr J – 26.6 / cant find other stats on their h2h matchups
Rick Barry vs John Havlicek
Barry – 28.1 / 8.4 / cant find other stats on their h2h matchups Hondo – 22 / 5.7 / cant find other stats on their h2h matchups
Rick Barry vs Chet Walker
Barry – 27.2 / 8.1 / 3.7 / 45% FG%
Chet – 20.1 / 6.5 / 2.8 / 49% FG%
So as you can see, Barry basically destroyed every other SF of his era – the only exception being Dr J (who was younger than Barry)
How could a player so dominant at his position be routinely left out in conversations? SLAM magazine left him out of their all time SF mount rushmore candidates – but inexplicably put Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce there. ESPN left him out of their all time Warriors starting lineup, instead putting in Draymond Green over him. TNT’s 2011 All-Star Fantasy Draft where 6 analysts drafted 10 players each – Barry was not picked.
It’s inexplicable to me that Rick Barry is mostly forgotten and even if he is remembered, mostly remembered for his granny style free throw shot and him being a racist commentator. When I went to watch the Warriors games, I was the only one wearing a Rick Barry jersey. Sometimes I even saw Mullin jerseys – but never Barry jerseys (or Thurmond jerseys for that matter). And that’s kind of sad because not only should his dominance as a player be remembered, but he’s one of the few players back then who would thrive in today’s game with his ultra competitiveness, his point forward skills, his complete game (post, interior, perimeter) and his long range shooting.
Thoughts? I think he’s one of my top 2 most underrated players of all time along with Artis Gilmore.