Barry presses ahead as a radio man
While several dozen celebrities were enjoying the amenities that go with playing a round of golf at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course on Monday, Rick Barry was working to keep his KNBR bosses content.
Unable to return to coaching after his last assignment in the United States Basketball League, the Basketball Hall of Famer has been paying his bills the past two years as a talk show host for KNBR (680 AM).
“TV is so much less work than radio,” said the former TV analyst who recently signed an contract extension with KNBR. “In radio, to do three hours a day you have to put a lot of preparation time into it and you better be prepared to do things if you don’t get calls.”
Although Barry enjoys his radio gig, he’d prefer to be on the bench somewhere in the NBA.
“It’s almost to the point now where I’d love to get a job just to prove them wrong,” Barry said of his critics who say he can’t coach in the NBA. “We’ll see what happens, but I’m almost getting too old to the point where I wouldn’t even bother doing it. But I still have a passion for it.”
Known during his NBA/ABA playing careers for his intensity, Barry changed little as a coach, demanding of his players no less than he expected out of himself.
“He can get pretty intense during games,” said Toshiro Germany, who played for Barry in New Jersey and Florida in the USBL. “He expects you to have it all together.”
Still, Barry is mystified why he hasn’t been extended another coaching opportunity.
“I don’t know what people’s reasons are behind it,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of other people get opportunities to coach and do things who have done things I have never done — gotten themselves involved with drugs, gotten themselves involved in other situations — and yet they get the opportunity to coach,” Barry said. “I’d love to do it, but I don’t have control over that, so I just do what I do and do the best I possibly can.”
Barry especially feels slighted by Golden State, which he helped lead to an NBA title in 1975. When the Warriors hired their past two coaches — Dave Cowens and Eric Musselman — Barry didn’t even receive an interview.
“If anything, I think I deserved an opportunity, even if it was a token one, to be interviewed,” Barry said. “The fact that I wasn’t given an interview, it hurt my feelings. They didn’t have to give me a job but to not interview me was a slap in the face.”
Because Barry was among the NBA’s best a quarter of a century ago, the 1975 Finals MVP wasn’t able to command a salary even remotely close to what players demand today.
“I’m just happy at this stage to have a job,” he said. “Everybody thinks if you played pro sports, you’re a multi-millionaire. Well, they don’t realize that they didn’t pay me millions of dollars to play the game, so I still have to work for a living.”
But just like he used to capitalize with his unique underhand toss at the free-throw line, Barry didn’t let any golden opportunities slip past him Monday. Of course, Barry couldn’t resist ribbing some of the players coming off the course.
“This is almost like torture. To make you come out to a beautiful golf course like this and this kind of setting and see guys like Ted Hendricks going out and playing golf and I have to work for a living, it isn’t fair,” said Barry, raising his voice so the “Mad Stork” could clearly here him from his golf cart a short distance away.