Bad News: Marvin Barnes dies at 62

6 Comments

Marvin “Bad News” Barnes, one of basketball’s all-time great characters, has died at 62, according to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal.

Barnes spent two years in the ABA with the Sprit of St. Louis and then four years in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons, Buffalo Braves, Boston Celtics and San Diego Clippers. In that time, he developed a heck of reputation.

Really, he entered pro ball with a rep coming out of Providence. There, he attacked a teammate with a tire iron.

When he wasn’t getting enough playing time with the Pistons, he famously declared “News didn’t come here to sit on no wood.” As a Piston, he also went to prison for bringing a gun to an airport while still on probation from the tire-iron incident. When released after five months and declaring he’d stay out of trouble, Sports Illustrated profiled him:

But that was not the real Marvin. Not the Marvin who once said, “I sell more newspapers than a lot of people. I helped build the Providence Civic Center.” Not the Marvin who once missed a St. Louis team plane to Virginia, chartered one himself, arrived after the game had started and scored 53 points. Not the Marvin who once took 20 playground kids shopping and bought them all $30 sneakers and ice cream. People who know Barnes smile at stories like these, add a few more and say, “That’s Marvin.”

They would say the same sort of thing whenever Barnes got into trouble, which was often. The first time was during his senior year at Central High School. He was with a group of boys who decided to rob a Providence city bus. Aside from being 6’5″ and a local celebrity, Barnes had the bad judgment to be wearing a jacket that had “State Champions” and “Marvin” written in script across the front.

Barnes kept getting multiple chances because he was so talented. He just liked money more than basketball, and that led him down some bad roads. Via Riverfront Times:

“I would have been one of the 50 greatest players of all time,” said Barnes, 57, who now works with at-risk teenagers in his Men to Men program in his hometown of Providence, R.I., telling them the pitfalls of drugs. “I was one of the five best players on the planet period (with St. Louis). Just ask anybody (from) back then … I was kicking some butt. … But I was going on a downhill spiral. I met drug traffickers in St. Louis and they showed me another way of life. And that was detrimental to my basketball career.”

In return for $25,000 in cash, Barnes would receive 25,000 pounds of Colombian pot. Barnes would turn around and have people sell the pot on his behalf for $500 a pound (or “$300 if we like you”), bringing him more money than his ABA gig, which was a $2.1 million contract over seven years.

Despite all his demons, Barnes was immensely likable. As People magazine wrote in 1977:

“How could you not like Marvin?” asks his college coach Dave Gavitt in all seriousness. “If you get to know him, he’s a warm, wonderful human being.” Barnes’s lawyer, Neil Fink, admits, “I’ve almost quit on him five times, but the guy always charms me into staying on.”

Report: Doc Rivers accepts deal to become Philadelphia 76ers head coach

Doc Rivers philadelphia
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Doc Rivers was not out of a job long.

Considered an elite coach and true leader of men, someone pushed out the door in Los Angeles by a frustrated owner in Steve Ballmer, Doc Rivers has accepted a deal to become the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Joel Embiid welcomed his new coach on Twitter.

This hiring was expected, and it came together fast. Rivers was let go by the Clippers on Monday and by Thursday had agreed to the deal with Philly.

Rivers signed a five-year deal and will not have any front office responsibilities, according to multiple reports. However, Philadelphia was looking to add more voices underneath GM Elton Brand and Rivers comes out of a collaborative front office situation with a lot of voices having a say. Brand and Rivers instantly clicked, according to reports.

Rivers jumps from one franchise with expectations of contending for a title but having fit and chemistry issues on the roster, to another.

Doc Rivers needs to find an offensive system in Philadelphia where both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can thrive next to each other, along with Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford in some capacity. There’s not much spacing or shooting there, which is why Shake Milton was getting a lot of run from former coach Brett Brown late in the season. That said, Harris played his best basketball in Los Angeles under Rivers and if he can find a way to better utilize players it will be a plus for Philly.

Roster tweaks would be coming, but with Rivers the idea will be finding a way to build around the stars they have in Embiid and Simmons. The plan is not to break everything up.

The buzz around the league is that Tyronn Lue will take the Clippers job, which leaves Mike D’Antoni looking at places such as Indiana and New Orleans.

Vince Carter wins NBA Sportsmanship Award

Hawks forward Vince Carter
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Vince Carter’s 22-year NBA career ended amid the chaos of coronavirus, preventing him from getting the deserved fanfare.

But fellow players will send Carter into retirement with the NBA Sportsmanship Award.

NBA release:

NBA players have selected Vince Carter as the recipient of the 2019-20 NBA Sportsmanship Award, the NBA announced today.

Carter, who spent the 2019-20 season with the Atlanta Hawks, announced his retirement from the NBA in June after playing a league-record 22 seasons.  He receives the Joe Dumars Trophy as the winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award.  Dumars, a two-time NBA champion and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, played 14 NBA seasons and won the inaugural Sportsmanship Award in the 1995-96 season.

Each NBA team nominated one of its players for the NBA Sportsmanship Award, which is designed to honor a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.  From the list of 30 team nominees, a panel of league executives selected one finalist from each of the NBA’s six divisions.  Current NBA players selected the winner from the list of six finalists, with more than 250 players submitting their votes through confidential balloting conducted by the league office.

Full voting (with first-, second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place votes and voting points):

1. Vince Carter (Hawks): 143-70-34-13-4-2-2,520

2. Garrett Temple (Nets): 22-78-63-52-25-26-1,746

3. Steven Adams (Thunder): 34-57-41-52-58-24-1,632

4. Harrison Barnes (Kings): 24-25-75-48-35-59-1,418

5. Langston Galloway (Pistons): 23-22-29-60-79-53-1,244

7. Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): 20-14-24-41-65-102-1,016

What a nice honor for Carter, who gracefully aged from high-profile star to veteran mentor.

Heat: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic doubtful for Game 2 of NBA Finals

Heat players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic
Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bam Adebayo‘s and Goran Dragic‘s injuries… not looking great for the Heat approaching Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Heat:

This is a disaster for Miami. The Lakers dominated Game 1, and now the Heat have two starters hobbled at best. At worst and more likely, Adebayo and Dragic are out.

Adebayo would be the bigger loss. Miami was completely overmatched when facing Anthony Davis without a center. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard can try to keep up, but they’re far from great solutions.

At least the Heat have more options at point guard. Kendrick Nunn can get an elevated role (especially after excelling in garbage time of Game 1). Jimmy Butler can become the de facto point guard. Tyler Herro can also play the position. But Dragic was playing so well during Miami’s run through the Eastern Conference. This is also a major setback.

 

Report: Tyronn Lue ‘early favorite’ to become Clippers head coach

Leave a comment

Doc Rivers is gaining momentum in the 76ers’ coaching search.

As for the job Rivers left behind with the Clippers… Clippers assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, unsurprisingly, has the inside track.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Clippers are planning to interview other candidates, starting soon, sources said.

The New Orleans Pelicans are planning to interview Lue in the near future too, sources said.

Lue would be a sensible hire. He has championship experience, which would help the Clippers hit the ground running in a make-or-break season before Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can become unrestricted free agents. Lue managed stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The Clippers must improve their chemistry around their stars. And the last time Lue got promoted from assistant to head coach, his team won a title.

New Orleans also has an appealing job. But the Clippers are far closer to championship contention. And if both teams want Lue, I bet Clippers owner Steve Ballmer would outspend Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.

Still, the Clippers are conducting a coaching search. Other candidates could emerge. This isn’t necessarily Lue’s job for the taking.

How long would he wait on L.A. if the Pelicans make an offer? Lue has shown he values being entrusted.