Barry Carries On a Family Tradition
The Barry’s family business happens to be basketball.
Brent Barry couldn’t help but to get into the family business. But instead of running a “normal” family business - say a family restaurant or funeral home or insurance company - the Barry’s family business happens to be basketball. So for Brent – along with three of his four brothers – his job entails donning an NBA uniform.
In fact the Barry family could field its own team. Brent’s dad – Rick Barry – was enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987. His oldest brother – Scooter – didn’t play in the NBA but did win an NCAA Championship in 1988 as a member of the Kansas Jayhawks. His 35-year-old brother Jon Barry is currently in his 13th NBA season, playing for the Atlanta Hawks. And – finally – baby-brother Drew played three NBA seasons before retiring in the summer of 2000. When Drew made his NBA debut in January of 1998, the Barrys made history becoming just the second trio of brothers to play in the NBA (joining Caldwell, Charles and Major Jones).
“It’s surreal to be out there and playing against each other, but when we’re playing we’re playing,” said Barry, who is now in his 10th NBA season. “And when we’re done, we have a chance to visit and catch up. But certainly on the court, it’s just about trying to get the job done. Of course to me, it’s still not a real job. To use the term job - I laugh anytime someone says basketball is my job.”
With career averages of 10.7 points, 3.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds in over 600 NBA games, Brent has enjoyed the most successful basketball career of the four brothers. But within a highly competitive family he says that basketball isn’t really a big topic of conversation. When the brothers get together they aren’t bragging about a big game or a big win. Instead the four brothers – along with their sister Shannon - are more likely to be telling stories about their own families.
“With all of us getting a little bit older and each of us having wives and children of our own, the conversation always turns to what’s going on around the household, the funny things the kids say,” said Brent, who spends most of his time off the court with his wife Erin chasing around their son Quin. “We never really discuss basketball too much. I mean, that would be like coming home from your desk job and talking to somebody about how your cubicle looks.”
For three seasons – from 1997-2000 - the three Barry boys were all playing in the NBA at the same time which made for some interesting matchups.
“A couple of years ago, I was playing against Jon. He was playing with Sacramento. He came down on the fast break, and I got called for a flagrant foul on him,” Barry said. “I just took him out. And it was one of those things where it was kind of a bang-bang play. He hit the standard behind the basket, didn’t know quite who hit him, and then when he got up, he saw it was me, he just put his hands on his hips and started laughing.”
Brent Barry on signing day.
(John Robbins/Spurs Photo)
Growing up with three brothers who all loved sports was great for Brent. Of course the four brothers – who are each about two years apart in age – were competitive.
“Definitely at home, we had plenty of battles,” said Barry, who signed with the Spurs as a free agent in July after spending the previous five seasons with Seattle. “And it usually wasn’t basketball. Usually, we’d do things like play whiffle ball, set up some sort of home run field in the backyard, play two-on-two, and we’d try to play nine innings, but somebody would get in a fight in the third inning and the game would never end.”
That competitive fire still burns inside Brent Barry today. Don’t let his laid-back style and sense of humor fool you. Barry is a fighter on the court. He wants to win and plays hard every second he is on the court. He can play point guard, shooting guard and small forward. He is the type who dives on the floor for a loose ball or hits a teammate with a perfect pass.
But of course what most fans see first in his game is his jump shot. While his form might not be classic the results are hard to beat. He has a career mark of .407 from three-point land. During the 2000-01 season he lead the league in three-point field goal percentage shooting .476 (109-for-229) from downtown.
With the Spurs, Barry sees himself as “another weapon out on the court that can stretch out any
defense. It’s just that much harder for teams to defend the Spurs knowing that we have Tim down in the post, knowing that we have Tony penetrating the ball, and knowing we have Manu doing everything else.”
Of course growing up in a family where sports played a major role, Barry understands that more goes into the game than just strength and athletic ability.
“Being around this game, there are certain things you can learn on the court. But what’s really fun about it for me, the perspective that I take is I learn a lot about people, about how they handle certain situations. What they do and what they’re made of,” Barry said. “When things are going well, it’s really easy to be jovial and have a smile on your face. But when things are going poorly, you really get a test of character, and that’s when it gets interesting.”
Away from the court Barry is a character. Living in Texas for the first time in his life Barry and his family have already fallen in love with San Antonio. But they still have their house on the beach outside of Los Angeles and he is quick to call the west coast “the best coast.” On summer days he can be found on the beach surfing or playing a game of volleyball.
Off the court Brent is a huge Seinfeld fan...not that there's anything wrong with that.
Barry was a serious golfer at one time, but fatherhood has changed all that. “With the son, it’s cutting into my golf time,” he says. “With a four-year-old, your golf game goes down the tubes, but it’s supposed to be an old man’s sport anyway. Plus you should never say you are a good golfer. If you start telling people you are a good golfer then they are going to expect you to give them strokes.”
In the personal section of his media guide bio – where most players list everything from favorite movies to their charitable endeavors – Barry tells the world he “would give his right arm to be ambidextrous.”
Around his teammates he can be heard reciting lines from his favorite movies – led by Caddyshack – and he seemed genuinely upset when he found out his French teammate Tony Parker had never seen the Pink Panther movies. He is a huge fan of “Seinfeld” and is quick to boast that he actually attended the filming of two episodes: “The Soup Nazi” and “Kenny Rogers’ Roasters Chicken.”
So now that Brent Barry is a dad playing in the NBA, just like his dad Rick was when he had four sons, what does Brent see in his son’s future. Is Quin Barry destine to be the next great Spurs guard? Will he be the third generation of the Barry family to play in the NBA?
“Right now,” explains Brent. “He’s just content with racing Hot Wheels and watching Jay Jay The Jet Plane which is just fine at four years old.”
THE BARRY BOYS
Rick Barry 6-7 220 3/28/44
Played 14 seasons (ABA/NBA combined) … elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987 … averaged a career-best 35.6 points per game during the 1966-67 season … named the MVP of the 1967 NBA All-Star Game finishing with 38 points in 34 minutes.
Scooter Barry 6-4 175 8/13/66
Played professionally in France, Germany, Spain and the CBA … played four seasons at the University of Kansas … won the 1988 NCAA Championship … was a co-captain as a senior and led the team in assists, averaging 6.3 points, 5.0 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game.
Jon Barry 6-5 210 7/25/69
In his 13th NBA season … selected by Boston in the first round of the 1992 NBA Draft (with the 21st overall pick) … ranked second in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage during the 2001-02 season with a .469 (121-of-258) mark from downtown … scored a career-high 25 points at Atlanta on 11/23/01.
Brent Barry 6-7 210 12/31/71
In his 10th NBA season … named to the 1996 All-Rookie Second Team … among active NBA players ranks sixth in career three-point field goal percentage with a .407 (990-of-2,430) mark … led the NBA in three-point percentage during the 2000-01 season with a .476 (109-229) mark.
Drew Barry 6-5 195 2/17/73
Drafted by Seattle in the second round of the 1996 NBA Draft … appeared in 60 regular season games in three NBA seasons … made his NBA debut in Atlanta on 1/21/98 against the Spurs … also played in for the Fort Wayne Fury in the CBA and the Sydney Kings in Australia … is the all-time assists leader in Georgia Tech history …