NBA and ABA great Rick Barry still a sharp shooter

2014-01-24T17:00:00Z 2014-01-25T02:01:13Z NBA and ABA great Rick Barry still a sharp shooterJohn Burbridge, (219) 933-3371

GRIFFITH | Pro football has the Manning family.

Pro basketball has hall of famer Rick Barry and his seemingly endless line of sons who have followed him into the NBA.

"Yeah, I stressed the fundamentals," Barry said of nurturing Richard "Scooter", who played for Kansas' 1988 NCAA championship team, then professionally in the U.S. and overseas; and Jon, Brent and Drew, all of whom played in the NBA.

"But their mother (Pam Hale) was a Division 1 basketball player herself, so it more likely came from the genes from both sides," said Barry, who from another marriage has another son, Canyon, playing Division 1 basketball for the College of Charleston.

"There are some things you can't teach in basketball," Barry said. "It's like teaching someone how to be a good athlete. You're either an athlete or you're not."

Barry does concedes parental influences can make an impact, like when his father -- a semi-pro basketball player --suggested he should shoot free throws in his now trademark, underhand "granny" style.

He might as well have told him to wear a dress.

"I said, 'That's how girls shoot. People will make fun of me'," Barry said. "That's when said to me, 'Son, they'll stop making fun of you when you make them.'"

Barry went on to shoot just under 90 percent from the line for his pro career.

"I tweaked the style a bit and I was shooting my best percentages the last six years of my career," Barry said.

Barry made an autograph and fan-interaction appearance Wednesday at Bridges' Scoreboard Restaurant and Sports Bar. Despite nearly 20 inches of snow that had been dumped within the vicinity with the threat of even more, Barry managed to show up early.

"I make a point of being punctual," Barry said. "That's the problem today, not enough people are punctual."

A small forward who played much of his career with Golden State, leading the Warriors to an NBA title in 1975, Barry is listed among the Top 50 NBA players of all time. He has the lone distinction of being an NCAA, NBA and ABA season scoring champion.

"Believe it or not, scoring in the pros was easier for me than scoring in college," said Barry, an All-American at University of Miami. "Why? Because I had four people trying to stop me in college. As a pro, only one guy was trying to stop me."

Barry's shot may have had a soft touch, but his words can be blunt, and they often didn't go over well with his peers and teammates.

"Am I brutally honest? Well, sometimes just being honest can be brutal for some people," Barry said. "I remember someone got upset with me because I answered his question truthfully. What did he want me to do? Make him feel better by telling him a lie.

"It reminds me of what Jack Nicholson's character said (in "A Few Good Men") ... 'You can't handle the truth!'"

Early in LeBron James' career, Barry caused a stir when he "brutally" critiqued James' shooting fundamentals.

"Here was one of the best athletes in basketball, and he couldn't shoot a jumper correctly," Barry said. "To waste that much talent was a travesty.

"To LeBron's credit, he's improved since then. I don't know if it was from what I said, but at least I brought it up."

Barry sometimes gets asked to serve as a "shot doctor" but admits there's only so much he can do if the "patient" doesn't have natural talent. But he does have a sure-fire way to score 20 points a game.

"First of all, you run your (butt) off filling the lane on fast breaks. That should get you at least two layups," Barry said. "Then you hit the boards for rebounds. That should get you a put-back basket. Now you want to aggressively drive to the basket and pick up fouls. That should be good for five or six free throws, and now you're already at 12 points.

"Just go four of 10 from the field and that should cover the rest."

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