Hall of Famer Rick Barry knows a thing or two about the NBA. He seems to keep up on it, and he’s even called LeBron James the greatest small forward to ever play the game. Barry is strong-willed, and his opinions rarely come with any flexibility.
That’s why it probably won’t shock you to learn that, during a radio hit with Fox Sports Radio’s Rob King this week, Barry got so infuriated with King’s interpretation of LeBron James’ pass to Kyle Korver that he hung up on him.
Barry, adamant that James made the right call with 52 seconds left in Game 3, passing to Korver for an open 3-pointer. Korver missed, and the Warriors went on to win, 118-113.
WARNING: NSFW language ahead.
There are a couple things to take away from this.
First, Barry is correct. Korver is one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history. Modern analytics have dictated the risk/reward for that kind of play as advantageous to good 3-point shooters.
Even further, LeBron was being guarded by Draymond Green at the time, who he had not beaten in full off the dribble. Green is a DPOY candidate this season and is one of the best defenders in the game. Kevin Durant was waiting on strong side help, so it wasn’t a guaranteed bucket for LeBron. Hoping for a foul is tough, given that in that situation referees are more likely to swallow their whistle when the reputations on either side of the ball for players are fairly evenly matched.
Now, Barry was of course wrong to pull out the argument that because King didn’t play professional basketball that he doesn’t have a right to an opinion. King was clearly playing the Devil’s Advocate role as radio host, poking at Barry to make his show better. That can be grating. But Barry did more to invalidate his argument by pulling out the You Didn’t Play In The NBA card. It’s not fair, and it has no bearing. Analysts — many of which played basketball their whole lives save for at the top level — are considered experts for a reason thanks to years of experience. It’s also a little silly to dismiss a side of a sports argument because of who it comes from instead of the merit of its context.
For the record, LeBron said he would pass to Korver if given the opportunity to do so again.