Warriors small forward and first-round draft pick Harrison Barnes has made quite a name for himself when you consider he’s the 13th youngest player in the league to step foot on a court this season. And while Harrison certainly has a nice ring to it, that’s not the name I’m referring to.
Nope, that would be the Black Falcon.
So, how did this name come to be? Barnes, along with promising NBA youngsters Kyrie Irving and Jared Sullinger, were given nicknames during a tour of the ESPN studios during their senior year of high school. Of course, you may be wondering, how did he end up with the Black Falcon of all things? “I said I wanted mine to be an animal, because Michael Jordan was the ‘Black Cat’ and Kobe was the ‘Black Mamba,’” Barnes said. “And they just gave me the ‘Black Falcon.’” And with that, the artist formerly known as Harrison became the soaring beast that got drafted No. 7 overall this past year. And, after 36 NBA games, the early returns suggest the guys at ESPN might have been onto something.
Not buying it? Watch this:
How about now? The dunk heard ‘round the Association (and quite possibly the dunk of the year thus far) was aptly named the “Flight of the Falcon” by Warriors fans via a social media contest. If you slow it down just enough, I swear you can see his wings propelling himself over Mt. Pekovic and into the highlight reels for this season and beyond.
But the Black Falcon name isn’t just about throwing down thunderous dunks. As discussed in the Barnes interview below, it’s something more than that. It’s a mentality, a state of being and, above all, it’s fun to watch.
Don’t get it wrong. While Mark Jackson rightfully wants Harrison, he isn’t going to complain if the Black Falcon is here to stay. It’s no doubt that the Warriors are a much more dangerous team when Barnes displays the aggressiveness and ferocity that have been revealed in frequent glimpses throughout this young season. And those glimpses can be either a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it. On one hand, if there were any doubts about the potential of this dynamic 20-year-old, there aren’t any more. On the other, Barnes’ displays of assertiveness haven’t exactly been consistent. That’s typical behavior for a rookie, and not necessarily a bad thing when you consider the other offensive weapons the Warriors possess. The key for Barnes will be building on his initial successes to develop the confidence to be a constant game-changing presence. And if the most recent stretch of games is any indication, it appears he’s headed in the right direction.
In Sunday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, Barnes notched a new career-high with 21 points on an extremely efficient 8-of-11 shooting. He was a consistent threat regardless of where he was on the floor, which seems to be becoming somewhat of a pattern. In the Warriors five games since the new year, the Black Falcon is averaging 13.0 points, 1.6 three-pointers, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.6 blocks and shooting 55.3 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from the line – not bad for a guy who won’t turn 21 for another four months.
Perhaps the most encouraging development in Sunday’s game was Barnes’ accuracy from long range, in which he was a near-perfect 5-of-6 from the three-point arc. You may have heard by now that the Warriors backcourt duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson has garnered its own tandem nickname, “The Splash Brothers”. If Sunday’s game is a sign of things to come, that duo might just have to expand to include the Black Falcon.
While he’s not competing for an All-Star spot this season, it’s not out of the question to think that at least one, and possibly more, could very well be in his future. And when you consider the various events held at All-Star weekend including the Slam Dunk contest and the Rookie Challenge, Warriors fans shouldn’t be surprised if they hear the following words soon:
Houston, the Black Falcon has landed.