Pro basketball star
Born: March 28, 1944, in Elizabeth, New Jersey
Grew up in: Roselle Park, New Jersey
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2019-20: Sports
Richard Francis Dennis Barry III—better known as Rick Barry—enjoyed his first taste of basketball stardom at Roselle Park High School, where he was a two-time all-state selection. He would go on to become one of the top scorers in the history of professional basketball.
After graduating from Roselle Park, Barry attended the University of Miami, gaining national recognition as a three-time All-American. As a senior, he led the NCAA in scoring with a 37.4 average per game. The San Francisco Warriors of the National Basketball Association selected Barry with the second pick of the 1965 player draft. (Princeton star Bill Bradley went with the first pick to the New York Knicks.)
The 6-foot-7 Barry won NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 1966 with the Warriors, averaging better than 25 points per game. The following year, Barry, a small forward, helped lead the Warriors to the NBA finals. His team lost the six-game series to the Philadelphia 76ers, but Barry averaged an amazing 40.8 points per game, including a 55-point performance in game 3.
Before the 1968 season, Barry had a falling out with Warriors’ ownership and jumped to the Oakland Oaks in the NBA-rival American Basketball Association. Playing for four different ABA teams over the next five seasons, Barry became the all-time leading ABA scorer in the regular and the post-season.
Barry returned to the Warriors for the 1972-73 season. Two years later led the team to the division championship, averaging 30.6 points per game in the regular season. He went on to be named MVP of NBA finals as the underdog Warriors engineered a surprising four-game sweep of the Washington Bullets in the championship round.
Barry remained with his original franchise through the 1977-78 campaign. Throughout his tenure with the Warriors, Barry reigned as one of the league’s top scorers, averaging at least 21 points per game every season. He was also renowned as a sensational free-throw shooter. Using an unorthodox underhand shot from the foul line, Barry led the NBA in free-throw percentage six times during his NBA career.
Closing out his career with two seasons with the Houston Rockets, Barry continued to amaze from the free-throw line. In the 1978-79 season he had a career-high .947 free-throw percentage—a league record at the time. Barry retired in 1980, an eight-time NBA All-Star who scored 50 or more points 15 times in his NBA career, fifth most in league history.
Following his playing career, Barry coached for several seasons and made a successful transition to broadcasting with CBS, TBS and TNT.