NBA 75: At No. 27, Rick Barry was a scoring machine, a perfectionist and controversial

Welcome to the NBA 75, The Athletic’s countdown of the 75 best players in NBA history, in honor of the league’s diamond anniversary. We’ll unveil a new player on the list every weekday through Feb. 18, culminating with the man picked by a panel of The Athletic NBA staff members as the greatest of all time.

Rick Barry is No. 27 on our list. He knows he isn’t No. 1 in your hearts.

“I think I have the reputation of being a hard person to get along with, and (as someone whom) nobody liked at all,” Barry told The Athletic.

Barry, 77, the son of a basketball coach from Elizabeth, N.J., was voted the 27th-best player as part of The Athletic’s NBA project documenting the top 75 players in league history. He was 1966 NBA Rookie of the Year and led the league in scoring in 1967. He was voted to eight All-Star games and was the 1975 NBA Finals MVP. He still owns the fourth-highest free-throw percentage in league history and scored 18,395 NBA points. He’s one of two players in NBA history to, at one point in his career, lead the league in the following categories over a season: scoring, steals and free throw percentage. (The other, we’ll talk about later.)

And for those of us, which is a lot of us, who didn’t see Barry in his prime, or at all, he was a problem for opposing defenses when the stakes were highest.


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