Rick Barry was one of the best to up a pair of basketball shoes.
One of thr NBA’s 50 Greatest Basketball Players of all time, Barry is a World Champion in both the NBA and ABA.
A multiple All Star, scoring champ, was one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players and the master of the underhanded free throw.
With such a prolific resume, Barry is an authority to speak on a myriad of topics including other greats like retired Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and his former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal.
Barry believes that Kobe Bryant is a first ballot Hall of Famer when he is eligible to be inducted in 2021.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: I chatted with New York City, basketball legend, Pee Wee Kirkland last week and he talked about how he felt that Kobe Bryant actually meshed the street ball game, the global game, as well as the NBA game, and the prep school game all in one. In your mind being a basketball historian that I respect, do you think there is anybody in NBA history, or where they not born yet that were able to complete all those things in their career.
Rick Barry: I don’t follow that close to be able to know who’s accomplished all that. The bottom line is that Kobe is a champion, he’s going to be a Hall of Fame basketball player. Five years from 2016, so in 2021 he will be going on into the hall of fame. He’s a great basketball player, and he’s accomplished a lot and I can tell you that all of that he may have done and some of the records that he has, the only thing Kobe believed in was winning. He was all about winning. And I think one of the problems that occurred with the Lakers when he had Shaq there, was that he was not happy that Shaq didn’t come ready to play all the time. And didn’t play himself into shape, and show up to ready to play all the time. And I think that really bothered Kobe a lot. And I think both of those guys were foolish not talking about it, because they had something special going… It was something that doesn’t happen happen very often. And eventually sometime when they are a lot older in life they’ll be sitting down saying: “What the hell was I thinking about?” “Why in the world didn’t Kobe and I didn’t just stay together and create a real true dynasty?”
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: When you talked about that “what the hell was I thinking moment…” what about for you? Did you have that kind of a moment at all during your career after it was all said in done? Anything similar?
Rick Barry: Well I’m a big believer in everything in life happens for a reason, and what takes place. You live with it, you accept it, you move on. You don’t can’t come back, you don’t live in the past. If I had something to do where I can be in the exact same position I am today, with the family that I have, with my wife and my young son, friends and I’m able to do right now and I can change something, without losing that, because this wouldn’t be if I haven’t did what I done in the past. I would be that I preferred to stay and play in the NBA my whole life.
Kobe Bryant’s differences Shaquille O’Neal and and arguments over their respective roles on the Lakers, followed by a trade that sent O’Neal to the Miami Heat while Bryant was re-signed as a free agent by the Lakers were later detailed in Phil Jackson’s book, The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul.
Worth noting: On this day 23 years ago, Shaquille O’Neal left the Orlando Magic and joined the Los Angeles Lakers.
Shaq signed a seven-year, $121 million contract with the Lakers.
Jerry West had a lot to do with that.
Jerry West was also was responsible for trading Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets in an NBA Draft day deal in 1996. That deal brought Kobe Bryant to the Lakers.
The rest is history. Coached by Phil Jackson, O’Neal and Bryant won three consecutive NBA Championships from 2000-2002 and make an NBA Finals appearance in 2004.
Shaq was the NBA Finals MVP in each of their victories.
“All Jerry West did was tell the truth,” Shaq told me.
“So when I was leaving Orlando, he brought me here and told me the truth. I would have a young team and a guy named Kobe. That guy’s going to be good but in a couple of years you’re going to have championships. It wasn’t no ‘get you this or get you that.’ Jerry’s not that type of guy.”