"The way I looked alienated a lot of people," Barry says. "I've seen films of myself and seen the faces I made. I looked terrible." He closes his eyes to the memory and shakes his head. "I acted like, a jerk. Did a lot of stupid things. Opened my big mouth and said a lot of things that upset and hurt people. I was an easy person to hate. And I can understand that. I tell kids, There's nothing wrong with playing the way Rick Barry played, but don't act the way Rick Barry acted.' I tell my own kids, 'Do as I say, not as I did.' "
What bothers him isn't that he's not beloved.
"It bothers me," Barry says, "that I'm not even liked."
Supposedly, the higher you climb, the harder it gets. Not so for Barry. At every rung things got easier for him. College basketball was easier than high school. Pro basketball was so much easier than college that it shocked him. In 1966-67, his second pro season, he led the NBA in scoring with a 35.6-points-per-game average—only Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor have ever done better.
[Photo Credit: Brian Lanker]