Rick Barry: The Original Charles Barkley

Every morning, the fine folks at Sports Radio Interviews sift through the a.m. drive-time chatter to bring you the best interviews with coaches, players, and personalities across the sports landscape. Today: Barry was the original cranky bastard behind the announcers' desk.

Rick Barry joined 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis with JMV to discuss how he was the first analyst that should get credit for criticizing players on a daily basis long before Charles Barkley became famous for the same routine, how his son Jon goes about being critical and positive with the current era of NBA players, whether he thinks the players in this modern NBA are not cut-throat competitive enough with each other, and his take on the "buddying up" of elite players in the NBA.

When I hear people give Charles Barkley credit for criticizing players on a daily basis in the NBA, correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't you doing that in the 1970s if I'm not mistaken for CBS?
"Well I got criticized for that and they said he's negative and stuff. I said wait a second. I'm not trying to be negative. Here's the difference. Sometimes these guys just criticize guys, but they don't give anything out afterwards. If I was critical I would say "Well that's a really bad pass to put that situation you need to throw a bounce pass in that situation." It wasn't like what a lousy pass that was, this or that. In fact in all the years that I did it I only had one player come up and thank me for what I had done. It was Kiki Vandeweghe who came up and said ‘Hey Rick I was listening to a replay of a game we played and you were talking about something I was doing and I didn't even realize I was doing that. I just want to thank you so much for pointing that out because it really helped me.' I try to do it in an informative way, critical, but informative, not to be critical. I got racked over the coals for that. I guess they just weren't ready for it at that time and I see these guys getting these great reviews being honest about their evaluation of players, so timing is everything in life."

How does your son Jon Barry go about being critical and positive with the current era of NBA players?
"Well it is a fine line. You know what I try to do when people are doing it. I said ‘Well you want to go ahead and talk about the negative, but you extenuate the positive. Okay, that's what you have to try to do.' To be honest in your evaluation it's ridiculous to…you're not a show working for a team,where you're trying to promote the team and do stuff. It's an insult to anybody with an intelligence if you're not being honest about your evaluation and you're trying to make chicken you know what out of you know what. Jon [Barry] has done a nice job with that. He's doing a terrific job of being honest with his evaluation of the game, but you have to be careful because if you're too critical than they might get upset with you although I guess if you're Charles [Barkley] it doesn't matter. Charles [Barkley] is kind of fun to listen to and he's interesting. My whole being you can be critical, but you can also be informative and the combination of the two I think works really. Especially to those people who understand the game."

Do you think that players in this modern NBA that are too buddy-buddy after the games?
"Here's the thing: there's a time and place for everything. A time and a place before a game to be able to go do all the hugging and doing all of the buddy thing. Now, I had some friends. I got to be friends with Jerry West and knew some other players, but when you're on a court I mean your objective is to go out there and beat the other guy. In my case I beat them as badly as you can beat them. You know show them no mercy. That's what it's about. This is professional sports. It's all about going out there and showing who's the dominant one. Off the court you want to go out, you want to sit down and have a drink, and schmooze and hug and do all things you want to do. Whatever you want to do not on the court before the game. I had a real problem with that. After the game it's a different story.

What about the buddying up of elite players in the NBA? How is that going to change the league moving forward?
"A few guys are finally getting smart and realizing you know it's not about, they're making so much money as it is. It's about trying to win a ring and trying to be the best there is in the world and being the champion. If you have an opportunity I know some of the guys…LeBron [James] was criticized by Michael Jordan, criticized by Magic Johnson. Yeah well that's easy for them [Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson] to criticize because they won all these championships and had these guys there that they had to play with. I mean if Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wasn't there and James Worthy and all those other players and Magic [Johnson] had played seven years with the Los Angeles Lakers and had won a championship and didn't see a potential to win one and go team up with another title, do you think he would have stayed in Los Angeles? I don't think so. Not if he had an opportunity to go and win a title. Magic [Johnson] was about winning and I certainly respect that about him, but it's really easy to talk about that and criticize somebody when you've never been in there shoes."

This post, written by Steven Cuce, appears courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews. For the complete highlights of the interview, as well as audio, click <a href="http://sportsradiointerviews.com/2011/03/01/nba...">here.

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