Rick Barry is a man that doesn’t conform to tradition or popular opinion. The Hall of Famer shot an underhand free throw, ignoring the noise about using “a granny shot.” His career .880 free throw percentage ranks No. 1 in ABA history, and at the time of his retirement in 1980, his .900 percentage was the best of any NBA player. Take that for data!
Rick Barry challenged a lot of other things in his time, and one of them was the morning shootaround. Travel is a reality of NBA life. When teams arrive in a new city, there is usually a morning shootaround on game days. It never made sense for Barry.
“Unfortunately, and God rest his should, I really liked him as a person; Bill Sharman was our coach. Sharman was the one that started morning shootaround garbage, which I still hate to this day. We’d had to get up in the morning and go shoot. Back in those days, we’d just had jeans and sneakers on. I know what it was for – to get you out of bed.”Rick Barry, 1-on-1 with Basketball Network
Keep in mind that we are talking about the San Francisco Warriors in the mid-60s. Players were flying commercial, so they had to catch the earliest possible flight in the day. They would finish a game, get back to the hotel, and fall asleep after midnight. Then wake up at 4-5 am and rush to the airport to catch the earliest flight possible. After arriving at their destination, Sharman had players show up for morning shootaround just to make sure they don’t spend the entire day in bed.
Barry understood the problem but was frustrated by the solution. In his eyes, it was an unnecessary waste of energy. A walkthrough in the hotel would serve the same purpose, and the players would save a lot more energy. Wilt Chamberlain had the same point of view as Barry, and when Sharman became the Lakers coach in the 70s, Chamberlain gave him a simple choice.
It’s even more extreme than in Barry’s jeans and sneakers’ time. For many teams, the morning shootaround is a full workout, and it drives Barry mad. This isn’t the only thing that annoyed Barry in the NBA, and he believed to be easily fixable.
“I don’t understand why the NBA doesn’t do what they do in Europe. After they do the intros they give you two more minutes to go out there and loosen up again before you play the game. Here you warm-up, now you gotta sit, go through the introductions, stand around, do this, national anthem, everything else, “now go out and play.” Now I’m not loose anymore. Makes no sense!”Rick Barry, 1-on-1 with Basketball Network
So why do teams still have morning practice? Barry had one explanation – so it seems like the coach is doing something. We often have stuff like this, inherited from the past that everyone does because “that’s how we do things.” Makes no sense but still happens.