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YouTube Gold: Rick Barry

Everyone hated him, but everyone respected him immensely too.

Denver Nuggets v. Golden State Warriors
 DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 09: Rick Barry #24 of the Golden State Warriors passes the ball over David Thompson #33 as Bobby Jones #24 watches during a game against the Denver Nuggets at McNichols Arena on November 09, 1976 in Denver, Colorado.
Photo by Mark Junge/Getty Images

Rick Barry is one of the absolute best players in NBA history. He’s also one of the most disliked. Why?

Well, partly, because like a lot of great players, he was uncompromising and ferocious. And, somewhat like Kobe Bryant, he didn't mind telling you what he didn’t like - although Barry was less diplomatic.

Basically, like Bryant, if you didn't try to perfect your game, he had no respect for you. He didn’t understand why Wilt Chamberlain, for instance, wouldn’t shoot underhanded free throws, something virtually everyone had given up on by the 1960’s. Chamberlain was superb in every aspect of basketball except for free throws, where he was miserably bad. Actually, he did try it for awhile and his shooting improved tremendously. But he went back to the standard technique.

Not Barry: his career free throw percentage was 89.3 percent, and all underhanded. He makes a convincing argument for why it’s better too, not that anyone much listens (although a few players who struggle from the line periodically give it a try).

He basically did everything well, pretty much textbook in every aspect. He had nearly ideal shooting form, boxed out well, had excellent ball-handling and passing skills.

You got the sense that after his career, he regretted his periodic harshness, but would he have changed his approach?

If he had, he wouldn’t have been as effective.

Bonus: Duke greats Jack Marin and Jeff Mullins make brief cameos.