Basketball As In Life: An Interview With Rick and Lynn Barry




Rick Barry and his wife Lynn are a truly remarkable couple with an amazing list of accomplishments.


Episode Transcription:


(Intro plays)


Ari: Welcome to whispers and bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun, and I’m your hosts. We have two very special guests on this episode, Rick Barry and his wife Lynn Berry. Rick Berry is one of the most celebrated players in NBA history. In 1965, Barry was drafted third in the first round of the NBA Draft by the San Francisco warriors. During his 14 year professional career for the ABA and 10. In the NBA, Barry was a 12 time all star, he became the only player in history to lead the NCAA, ABA and NBA in scoring. In 1975, Barry earned the NBA Championship Series MVP, leading the underdog warriors to a four game sweep of the Washington Bullets to win the title. In a combined ABA, NBA career, Berry tallied 25,279 points, and received nine all NBA NBA First Team honors. In 1987, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted Rick as a player, and in 1988, the Golden State Warriors retired his number 24 jersey barriers one of the 50 greatest NBA players his unorthodox underhand free throw style enabled him to finish his career with a second best accuracy in the history of the NBA 90%. And believe me, I remember those underhand baskets. We’ll talk about that later. Now I’ll still a player, Rick became a broadcaster doing stints on several outlets including ABC TV, CBS, TV, TBS, and TNT. He continued his broadcasting career after retirement from pro basketball while getting heavily involved in various other business ventures. He’s an avid fisherman and golfer Rick had four boys with his first wife, Pam as well as adopting a girl in 1991. He married his current wife, Lynn, and together they had a boy Canyon. All of his boys at one time or another have played pro basketball Lin. She’s amazing. Lynn was an all America basketball player at the College of William and Mary. She’s considered the premier player in the school’s history. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1981 with a 3.97 GPA as a kinesiology major, ranked seven in a class of you ready for this 869 and was also the school’s homecoming queen Lynn was elected to the William and Mary Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 and became the first female athlete and still the only basketball player to have her number 22 jersey retired in 2002.

After graduation, Lynn earned a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky where she fashioned a perfect 4.0 GPA. For 12 years she was the Assistant Executive Director of USA basketball in charge of all women’s programs. For five years, Lynn was a special advisor to the WNBA and was a valuable asset in helping the new league get started. Lynn teaches basketball as a frequent guest speaker at numerous camps and clinics. She’s an avid golfer and pickleball player. She volunteers in school, church and community activities. Please help me welcome Rick Barry and his wife, Lynn. Guys, how are you? 

Rick: Hey Ari to correct one thing, I’m not an avid golfer that was a very good golfer one handicap at one time golf is too difficult to be fun to play. I am an avid pickleball player as well as my wife right now. And also just to straighten things out. So you people know my wife actually should have had 4.0 in college as well. 

Lynn: Thank you, thank you

Rick: But one professor gave her a fee because she didn’t follow directions at the beginning but she really deserved to have an A. So this is one of the things that I’m proud of stuff. No I’m serious about this is that I’m so proud of the fact that the history of NCAA division one basketball men and women the only mother and son combination to have been two time first team academic all America players are Lyn and our son Canyon.

Ari:  Wow. Wow

Lynn: He can just take over your interview. Sorry. I’m sorry. There you go. 

Ari:There you go. Hey, I’m loving it. I’m loving. I don’t even have to ask anything. 

Lynn: Yeah. 

Ari: All right. Anyway, again, I want to thank you. I know you guys have very busy schedules. And it means a lot to my audience that you came on. And it means a lot to me as well. Now so first and foremost, let me say I can’t believe it’s been 12 years since the mission to Israel that we went on. And now Kane is playing pro basketball. And I’ve Ramiz married and starting to be an actuary and a rabbi. I know that I had an awesome time. And so to my son of Rami, it was a very meaningful experience meeting Rabbi Grossman and the 6000 kids that he is currently taking care of. So let’s start there, guys. What kind of an impact of that trip to Israel have on the berries?

Rick: Well, I mean, I think it had the biggest impact. I mean, for me, I think that Rabbi Grossman is one of those individuals that when you first meet someone, you know that there’s something incredibly special about them. There’s just something there’s an aura. There’s just something about him. I mean, he’s kind of like a Mother Teresa type of person. And so he’s amazing. He really, truly is amazing. And it still was one of the most memorable trips that I’ve ever was on was great, as you say, you know, we got to meet you and your son. But yeah, I think it had a major impact on Kenyan. Because he was there he your son was getting Bar Mitzvahs. Yes, correct. Correct, right. And so, but Kenyon had to write something Lin could tell her story, because she follows she did all the academic stuff to help him out and do it. So you tell what he did

Lyn: No, no, he just, you know, they asked when you fill out your college applications, what was something that had the most impact on your life, or what was most impactful? And he mentioned, Rabbi Grossman, and the trip that he took, you know, in Israel, and I think that’s awesome that it meant a lot to him. And I will say that we certainly enjoyed spending the time with you and of Rami, because Canyon would have been bored out of his mind if he didn’t have another little kid to run around with them. Yeah, I was trying to remember with Rick when that trip was and now you brought it to light that it was what, 12 years ago?

Ari: Yeah, because it was a Ramiz Bar Mitzvah. Yeah, it was 13 Canyon was 14. Yeah. Right. So I knew there was a there was a year difference. And I think two inches. Uh, well, I think

two more now.Now Rami is five, nine and canyons. What? 6’6? Yeah. Okay.

Lynn: We enjoyed that trip. And I really enjoy getting to know you guys, and understanding more about your faith, and your dedication to your faith. You know, I think it was very interesting for us because we had not really been around people that, you know, were so prayerful and followed Judaism so much. And it was good for us to learn about that and find out about it. 

Rick: Well, for me love history, right?

Ari: Okay

Rick:  And so for me to be standing and don’t have been that I was brought up Catholic, for me to be standing, where supposedly the cross was where Jesus was crucified and to be in some of those areas, even like when I was we had visited Rome before with one of the churches with the NBA when they had to McDonald’s games, to be standing in the Coliseum. And some places where I mean, Julius Caesar or Cleopatra could have been standing there. I mean, Jesus could have been standing in the spots where I was, and some of these other the apostles and all of the other people. I mean, that, to me is a very moving experience. It really truly is, and to see the love that those kids have a rabbi Grosbeaks like the pied piper managed to follow him around. Really, truly remarkable. And God bless him. I mean, the way God does things, as you well know, he was asked to be the head Rabbi for the State of Israel on numerous occasions and turned him down because he’s committed to the kids. 

Ari: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. 

Lynn: It was great. A great trip. Very, very memorable. And we got to know you guys, which is even better.

Ari:  Yeah, that was, uh, we still have it up on, I’m putting up another shelf behind me and I’m gonna have some sports paraphernalia. And of course, the centerpiece is going to be the basketball that was signed by Rick and by Dr. J. So that’s going to be you know, that’s gonna be really great. We have that underclass. Alright, protecting it very much. So yeah, great. We had a we had a great time. I’m telling you, when we found out that there was supposed to be like, 40 people on that mission it was just me and I’ve Rami it was like, oh my god if I’m just gonna be bored out of his face. Alright. And then when we met you guys, and then we met Canyon, I’m going to called thank God.

Lynn: They became fast friends. And I just I remember there’s that picture. I think I sent it to you of Canyon and Rami and that little story. Canyon had the yarmulke on his head? Yeah, yeah. Robbie standing there looking at it. It was cute.

I’ll never forget his bar mitzvah. That’s for sure.

Ari: One of my favorite pictures was when we were at when we were at McDowell or, and we have a lunch. And then we’ve music and there was the dancing and Rick picked me up on his shoulders. I have that.

Rick: I saw the video. I was dancing with him on my

shoulders. Yeah, yeah. That was with the rabbi. I mean, yeah, that was that was just that was just amazing. 

Ari:  Yeah, the smile on his face. I mean, it was just I don’t think he’s ever been that high.

Lynn: I’ll never forget his bar mitzvah. That’s for sure.

Ari:That’s for sure. That’s for sure. Okay, so now as you know the name of this podcast is whispers and bricks, the whispers of those voices telling you what is the right thing to do and represents the good in life. The bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life and let’s be real everybody goes through something nobody’s got a perfect perfect like start to finish they go through they have some bricks thrown at them. That’s just life. Now on the surface you guys seem to have a perfect a great life great careers. However, as I said, we all know life is not a straight line. There are many ups and downs and many bumps in the road. Even superstars like you guys go through trials and tribulations. Now my listeners would like to know well with some of the struggles and or failures Some of the bricks that you got hit with when you was either starting out in your careers or throughout your careers, what was some of those bricks

Rick: and to keep, you know, my wife happy and do stuffs, and she’s the boss of the house, so I’m gonna let her go first. I would talk I’ll probably took a lot longer,

Lynn: which is perfectly fine. Go ahead. You know, you really just brought it up just earlier. Well, we were I was talking, you told me that we are going to talk about some things we’ve overcome in life. And so I was talking to Rick last night, just saying, you know, let’s talk about some of the bricks that we’ve had in our life and what those have been. And fortunately, we both like couldn’t come up with a lot of them, because it was like, wow, our life has been worse. Yeah, totally. But I would say for me, my biggest setback was

Ari: the 3.97, as opposed to the 4.0?

Lynn: no, no, I was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. Yeah. And malignant melanoma, had surgery, age, three lymph nodes, removed, all that kind of stuff. But it was really interesting to me, because it really became a time of reflection, because I had to stay still, and I’m very active. Oh, I bought it for like, six weeks, just not doing anything while my lymphatic system healed and everything healed and all that kind of stuff. And I kind of looked at it. I think at the time I was 40 something years old, 45 May 46. And I looked at it as a halftime of my life. And I said, What do you do at halftime, you evaluate the first half? What did you do wrong? What did you do, right? And then you make a plan and set a course for what you’re going to do in the second half of the game. And so for me, that was really a time of introspection and looking ahead and say, Okay, what do I want to accomplish in the second half. And so I really just looked at it as a halftime break. And now moving forward, just the things I want to do and accomplish. And that was probably my biggest setback. And I know we both have had other injuries when we were playing sports. And I know that that was the thing that Rick had talked about

Rick: Fortunately. And that second half he decided on, she decided that she still had me around. So that was good.

Lynn: I didn’t get rid of him. I kept him what the heck.

Rick: that time you worry about those things. I mean, you don’t know cancer is such a horrible disease. And I don’t know if anybody in their entire lifetime goes through without having a friend or family member or themselves having to deal with that dreaded disease. And so thank God, it hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes. I mean, had it done that. I mean, I might not be here talking with Lynn. I mean, thank God, it all worked out well. So but yeah, we’ve been really blessed. I have to look at it that everybody should have the life that I’ve had. I mean, yeah, I’ve got I’ve been a poster boy for when I switched leagues and doing stuff. I’ve been just absolutely berated by the press, and made it to be this horrible, ogre, terrible, rotten person that everybody hates. But the bottom line is, is that the people that I love, who know me and my friends know who I am as a person. And I think the biggest thing for me was probably having my knee injury. My third year, fourth year actually, I played the first two years in the NBA and was the first team all pro player and like people still use rookie year and said, No, actually, my rookie year I was first team all Pro, which is a little bit better than just being. And then the second year, I led the league in scoring. And then that doesn’t happen very often. And then I changed and switched leaks. And so I was just absolutely vilified. It’s a good word. So all these big words, they said, 3.97 no administers. But here’s the deal. I know who I am as a person. So that was no big deal. But then I got hurt in the first year that I played in the ABA. And when you get an injury, that you have to have major surgery, and back then they didn’t have arthroscopic surgery. I mean, I just simply had a cartilage but I had to get cut open to do the cartilage we now have people are back playing in seven days, 10 days, I was out for six weeks, and didn’t know whether or not my knee was going to work again. And that was a very traumatic time for me. But I think you pray your face that God has a plan for you. And I’ve always been a person to believe that there’s a master plan for me, I accept what comes my way I deal with it. If it makes me sad, I cry and I get over it. I have a real problem. And I feel badly for people who don’t have the ability to take things and compartmentalize them and put them on the backburner. Like people asked me after I retired so you missed the game. And I say no. And they look strangely at me. And I said well, like the reason I don’t miss it is because I don’t think about it. Because if I thought about it, it would make me very sad. So why would I want to think about something that would make me sad? No, I don’t think about the fact that I was ever going to play the game that I love so much that I would love to have played longer and I move on with my life and so I got through that time and you know, I could still remember to this day or exactly when I knew my knee was okay was the double overtime game in the ABA playing against the Dallas Chaparral was down in Dallas, Texas, and it’s a very intense game. I made a steal I broke away I’m gonna have to go dunk it. And I jumped in. I was wearing a little bit of a brace on my left knee and I got up really high. I got my knees okay. I mean seriously, just a crazy little thing like that. I all of a sudden realized I don’t have to to worry about my knees collapsing and giving away on me and I was able to do and then unfortunately, I tore the other cartilage and had to go in the second time. But it’s just a matter of having belief in yourself, I really truly believe that one of the keys to success when I talk to businesses, I always tell people, these wonderful characteristics that are important, I think, to be successful, that are similar to what I think helped me to be a success. And I talked about him and I talked about having great pride in what you do, and the words that make up guys, I’m not gonna go through the whole not gonna go through the whole thing.

Lynn: This podcast is not like three hours, so no, no.

Rick: You have to do preparation, dedication, throwing out some words, dedication, determination, all these wonderful things and characteristics that you should have.

Lynn: We should have gone on separately

Rick: They all add up to the one thing, I think that is critical in order to really truly be great at what you do. You have to have confidence in yourself and your abilities to do what is being asked of you to do, and to be able to do them during critical situations. And that’s why one of the things I get so upset and listening to broadcast on sports, especially, is the word pressure, pressure this while the pressures really on the pressure, or I’ve never in my basketball career ever experienced pressure, because pressure does not exist. Unless you lack confidence in your ability to do what it is you’ve trained to do. You are called upon. And I’m sure it’s happened to you in many situations in the business world, to have to perform in a critical situation a big contract and get your salesperson, whatever it may be. In my case, it was having to play maybe making the last shot. I had confidence in myself that I was going to do that. And those situations are not situations that I would shy away from or welcome pressure. I was looking forward to them. I tell people I could play every game of my life over again. And I can control some I’d want it to come down to the last 10 seconds in the ball in my hand.

Ari: Yeah, I hear you. I hear you. Amazing. Amazing. I was a ballplayer in high school a little bit in college hoops. And then afterwards, you know, when I went it was not good enough to play in the NBA, which was no big deal. But I played you know, religiously. I love the game. And when I was I think was about 40 years old. And we were playing and I had a steel I was running down on a fast break. And there was another guy who was like five foot six. All right, but Kip for a he was a Leaper. He could outrebound just about everybody. There was unbelievable. And, and he was really, really quick. And as I’m driving down, I hear his footsteps behind me. So you know, I get nervous right now I’m thinking he’s right behind me. You know, I’m gonna fake one way and go the other way and then lay it up, right? I faked one way I went the other way. But my DD didn’t cooperate. I went down. I missed the shot, which was the worst part, but I tore my ACL and at 40 and you tear your ACL. It’s no picnic, and I went like you know what my basketball days are over because I tore my meniscus like three times. But when I told the ACL I was like, You know what, I can’t do this anymore. You know, I take up pickleball No, I took up golf actually. Okay, I took up golf.

Lynn: Well, I Rick made me take up golf. And then he ended up not liking it. So now I play and he doesn’t like this. So you don’t like it 

Rick: I like it is just so difficult difficult sport I’ve ever played. You’d never could master it. I got confirmation for that I happen to be with Jack Nicklaus about eight months ago and asked him Jack, I keep telling everybody, you’ll never come master golf on my right. He said, absolutely. So when the greatest golfer in the world tells you that you can master the game and you’re a perfectionist. That’s probably something you should probably shy away from because I’d like to go nuts. I said, if I was a drinker or smoker, I’d be an alcoholic and I probably have lung cancer.

Ari: Well, you do everything to the limit, right? That’s what I know about you. All right. I’ve watched you play both in the NBA and the NBA. You know, the greatest thing about about you, from my perspective, was the underhand free throws. All right, because, you know, especially when you’re young, right, and kids, they can’t reach the basket they try and they try and you know, if they did it underhand is so much easier to do it, you know, for them to reach the basket. And I think it gave kids I know that it gave a lot of kids a lot of you know, it helped their self confidence and like oh, I can do this on the handle. Rick Barry does it on the hand he plays in the NBA. Why shouldn’t I be able to do it and Miley? So it was just something that was I felt that kids took away a lot with with that underhand free throw. How did that come about though?

Rick: My father was a semi pro player and coach and he shot that way and he just felt that I could be higher percentage trigger. It’s only maybe mid 70 shooter, which is okay, but it’s not good. I don’t think you’re a good free throw shooter. If you can’t make you know, eight out of every Yeah, 80% is you’re good and then you get better. But if you’re not at 80 You should never be satisfied with that. In fact, I was never satisfied at 90. In fact, I better No, I really did. I still think I’m the best free throw shooter. If you were to look at the record what I had when I changed the technique. I changed my technique and my last six years I shot over 92% my last two years I showed over 90 4% In fact, Andre Drummond from the pistons in one game set, a record missed 23 Free throws in one game, that’s more free throws, and I missed in my entire last two seasons, I missed nine in one season intended another. And so and I can tell you, that was 19 times that I was really upset with myself, because if I missed him, the only reason I missed it is because I did something incorrect. I didn’t shoot the ball as accurately and as properly as I should have. So it’s something that my father instilled. Taking pride in everything you do in life, making sure you give your best effort. And that’s what I try to instill in kids, when I talk to them is that find something that you love, I said, if you get nothing else, out of all the things I’m talking about here today, please get this. Find something in life that you have a love and a passion for, learn as much about it as you possibly can. Because that knowledge that you get is going to be the foundation that you’re going to lay down that you can build on. You cannot build a skyscraper on a small foundation, it will topple over. So the bigger the foundation, the taller the building. And if you’re blessed with God given talents and abilities, and you learn the game and learn how to do it properly, you have the potential then of maximizing your full potential. And I love greatness like I am so looking forward to the football game today. Because you have old school new school, you have one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. And Brady, and you have I just love watching mahomes play, and he’s gonna be amazing. Hopefully he’ll stay healthy. And I love watching great people do whatever it is not just in sports, whatever it happens to be, I have great admiration and respect for people who are great at what they do.

Ari: Absolutely. You know, there’s a movie called Draft Day. I don’t know if you saw it was a football movie. And at one point in time he was talking about he was the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. And he talked about Super Bowl that Joe Montana was in it was like, you know, a minute and a half left in the game and they needed to score a touchdown in order to win. And Montana comes into the huddle and you’re watching it and he says and all of a sudden he turns around, he looks up in the crowd. He says, Hey, isn’t that John Candy up there? He said and all the guys looked up and they saw John Candy and just all of a sudden everybody calm down. Everybody got and they drove 93 yards to for the touchdown to win the Superbowl. You know, he says In other words, he had the coolness about him. You know that’s what the great ones do is my son once told me great players make great plays not great excuses.

Lyn:  So Canyon is happy and loves watching him shoot the underhand free throw and carry on the tradition.

Rick: He’s gotten very good. Very good. He’s 85 to 90% free throw shooter. And it’s really cool. Because I love him. He told the story that he thought one of the greatest things about being made fun of obviously you still get made fun of he gets made fun of when he does. But he was playing any game. And he missed the free throw. And the student section over there yelled out, you’re adopted your adopted.

Ari: So if people want to out to you about speaking how can they do that? Do you have a website?

Rick: My website is up but it’s not really functioning the way it should be doing it. I mean, they could probably just reach out to me on Messenger or Facebook or LinkedIn and out there and also on Instagram or something they could just if they just message me or do something and if I see it, it makes some sense I will reach out to someone I just don’t give out my normal number

Ari: NO obviously no because most times when I talk to people they have a website

Rick: My cell number right yeah give me a call anytime you want now I’m getting I’m getting all these sounds cell phone now I’m getting all of these just absurd marketing texts everything. Spam myself cell phone with text. It’s just It’s pathetic. I mean, it’s actually it’s kind of disgusting because a lot of it is very sexual stuff. And I don’t know how they get away with doing that. I really don’t it’s really annoying.

Lyn: you Ari and you could pass I was gonna say you want I can we can reach out to me, I’ll reach out to you as

well as in

Rick: Thank God we had way more whispers than we’ve had bricks. We’re truly blessed. But here’s the thing, folks don’t get so discouraged and feel badly things in life happen for a reason. God has a master plan. Sometimes you can’t figure out why I know. It’s taken years even in my pursuit, relentless pursuit of Lynn for five years to wear down. I mean, you just have to, you have to, you know, you have to withstand what’s going on things will work it out. I mean, I was wondering, why was it taking me forever to have this divorce thing? Well, if it hadn’t been for that taking so long, I would have asked her to marry me because I knew I wanted to have her in the rest of my life. But fortunately, that divorce took forever and by the time it got done, we had established a really good relationship that enabled her to overcome her first response, which was totally

a baggage. If it

hadn’t been for that. I don’t know that we’d be sitting here talking that she would have ever said yes and got married, you know, so just hang in there, folks. That’s all I can tell you.

Ari: There

you go. There you go. Lynn. I guess it’s the same for you if people want to reach out to you and they’re looking for a speaker I guess I’ll just have them come through me.

Rick: She’s very, very good. She’s I know, she’s an amazing teacher to in basketball. She’s

Ari: Oh, I know, I look again, I was watching the two of you on the mission. And Rick, I knew what you could do. All right, but I didn’t know anything about Lynn. And when I saw her going at it was like, wow, oh, man, that’s great. That’s great. Somebody can lend us we really

Rick: It’s good to see you and hope everybody hangs in there tough during this crazy time that we’re in a very chaotic and disruptive but like I say, God has a master plan. We’ll see what it is. But hopefully, we’ll get this thing under control and be able to get back to some semblance of normal type of life. Almost see, what we’ve gone through is just, it’s been very sad. I mean, a lot of people’s lives have been ruined and destroyed and businesses and man. And that’s one of the things that I’d say everything happens. And I know these people have to be sitting there say, Well, how can this possibly good? Why is this possibly happening? There’s a plan somehow, you’re going to find something else that you’re going to have to wind up doing, you got to survive, you have to do and all of a sudden it could wind up turning into something that you never would have gotten into. And it becomes way better than what you previously were in. So just have faith and trust God and see how it works out.

Ari: You guys are so amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your stories with me and my audience and giving the people the motivation they need to persevere through all of their struggles in life. Good luck to the two of you going forward. You’ve been listening to whispers in bricks. I’m your host Ari Schonbrun. Until next time, listen to the whispers and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.

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