The Big Man Can't Shoot with Malcolm Gladwell | E3/S1: Revisionist History Podcast (Transcript)
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The Big Man Can‚Äôt Shoot with Malcolm Gladwell
Episode 3 | Season 1| Revisionist History
Length: 35 min | Released: June 30, 2016
Malcolm Gladwell: The greatest game of basketball anyone has ever played was in Hershey, Pennsylvania, March 2, 1962.
Sports announcer: Here‚Äôs the big fourth quarter and everybody‚Äôs thinking out on his [inaudible 00:00:46]. He‚Äôs got 69 going in. Here‚Äôs the pass to him. He‚Äôs got another one!
MG: Cold, rainy night, just over 4000 people in the stands. Philadelphia Warriors versus the New York Knicks.
Sports announcer: Meschery airs it, that‚Äôs a good shot, they‚Äôre taking it, but mostly, they‚Äôre setting up the big man.
MG: The star of the warriors was a man named Wilt Chamberlain; no doubt you‚Äôve heard of him. 7 foot 1, 275 pounds. For sheer physical presence, there has probably never been anyone like Wilt. There are lots of 7 footers who play basketball who are basically on the court purely because they‚Äôre 7 feet tall. They‚Äôre clumsy and ungainly. Chamberlain was not like that. He was as big as an oak tree and as graceful as a ballet dancer. That season, 1961 to 1962, he ended up averaging more than 50 points a game. That record will never be broken.
Sports announcer: Taps it in! Chamberlain taps it in!
MG: So, March 2. Wilt was hung over; he‚Äôd been out all night with a woman he picked up at a bar. That‚Äôs classic Wilt, too. He would later claim to have slept with 20,000 women in his life and when he said that, lots of people did the math and said there was no way that was possible given the fact they‚Äôre only 24 hours in a day and Wilt only lived to the age of 63, but even the skeptics were like, ‚ÄúWell, maybe it‚Äôs 10,000 or 8000.‚Äù It was an argument over whether it was an unbelievably high number or merely an incredibly high number.
Sports announcer: The big man of the Warriors and the big man of the league has 92 points‚Ä¶
MG: My name is Malcolm Gladwell. You‚Äôre listening to Revisionist History, where every week we re-examine the forgotten and the misunderstood.
This week‚Äôs episode is about Wilt Chamberlain‚Äôs most famous game.
Sports announcer: Wilt‚Äôs got the ball, he‚Äôs got up, he shoots, it‚Äôs good!
MG: So back to the game in question. Chamberlain makes his first 5 shots and his 23 points at the end of the first quarter. At half time, he has 41 points. No one‚Äôs thinking history just yet, but then, by the end of the third quarter, he has 69 points and he keeps going and going and going.
Sports announcer: He shoots up! No good! Hit it out. The rebound [inaudible 00:03:18]. He made it! He made it! He made it! The fans are all over the floor.
MG: 100 points! The most anyone has ever scored in a professional basketball game. And here is the most incredible thing about it; he shot brilliantly from the foul line.
MG: What did he, what did he‚Ä¶
Rick Barry: 28, he made 28 out of 30. 30 or or 32, yeah.
MG: That‚Äôs Rick Barry speaking. He was a contemporary of Chamberlain‚Äôs, also a Hall of Famer, an absolutely unstoppable scorer. I met him at his condo in South Carolina, where he lives part of the year so he can follow his son Canyon, who plays basketball for the College of Charleston. Barry is 72, 6 foot 8 inches tall, barrel chest, legs that look like he had special extensions put on them. And that thing the great athletes have, and never seem to lose, which is that they kind of glide across the floor like they have wheels on.
A big part of this episode is about Barry, but other people too because, although this sounds like it‚Äôs going to be a show about basketball, the truth is it‚Äôs not. It‚Äôs a show about good ideas and why they have such difficulty spreading. But for the moment, back to Wilt Chamberlain.
Sports announcer: Chamberlain‚Ä¶ Makes it!
MG: He‚Äôs made 28 out of his 32 shots from the free throw line, 87.5%. The reason that‚Äôs incredible is that when Chamberlain came into the NBA, he was a horrendous free throw shooter, the worst. He was a man who could excel at virtually every physical feet under the sun, who could score at will with 2 and sometimes 3 defenders draped all over his body. But put him all alone 15 feet from the basket and he was hopeless. He was shooting 40% from the free throw line, that‚Äôs terrible!
But this season, Chamberlain changes tactics. He starts to shoot his foul shots underhanded, he doesn‚Äôt release the ball up by his forehead, he holds the ball between his knees, and flicks it towards the basket from a slight crouch. And all of a sudden, he‚Äôs a pretty good free throw shooter. He gets up to more than 60%. And that special night in Hershey, Pennsylvania, he‚Äôs an incredible free throw shooter.
Sports announcer: Chamberlain on the line‚Ä¶ Foul shot up in the air, he has 84!
MG: He makes 28 free throws. The most anyone has ever made in NBA history. What Rick Barry will tell you is that shooting underhanded is simply a better way to make foul shots. And he knows that because he was one of the greatest foul shooters of all time, maybe the greatest.
RB: I missed 9 in, 10 in 1 season and 9 in another, in the whole season.
MG: To put that in perspective, LeBron James, the greatest player the current basketball generation, typically misses about 150 free throws a season. Rick Barry would miss 9 or 10.
RB: I think I shot 935 or something and 947, something like that.
MG: And Rick Barry only shot underhanded.
RB: From a physics standpoint, it‚Äôs, it‚Äôs a much better way to shoot. There‚Äôs less things that can go wrong, less things that you have to worry about repeating properly in order for it to be successful, but the other thing is, is that who walks around like this?
MG: Yeah, with their hands in the air.
RB: This is not a natural position.
RB: When I shoot underhanded free throws, where are my arms? Hanging straight down, the way they are normally. And so, I‚Äôm totally and completely relaxed, it‚Äôs not in a situation where I have to worry about my muscles getting tense or tight. And then the shot itself, it‚Äôs a much softer shot. So many of my shots, even if they‚Äôre a little off, they hit so nice and soft and they‚Äôll still fall in the basket.
MG: The soft bounce.
RB: Much softer touch.
RB: And so you, you, you have a little bit more margin for error. Some of those shots that are a little bit off line have a much better opportunity of going into the basket than when you shoot overhanded.
MG: So Wilt Chamberlain switches to a better shooting technique. It pays off in the greatest basketball game ever played. He‚Äôs playing the way that Rick Barry proved basketball players ought to play. Then, something incredible happens. Wilt Chamberlain stops shooting underhanded, and he goes back to being a terrible foul shooter.
Let‚Äôs think about what he did for a moment. Chamberlain had a problem. He tested out a possible solution. The solution worked and all of a sudden, he‚Äôs fixed his biggest weakness as a player. This is not a trivial matter. If you‚Äôre a basketball player, and you can‚Äôt hit your free throws, you‚Äôre an incredible liability to your team, particularly at the end of close games. The other side simply fouls you every time you touch the ball because they know you‚Äôll miss your free throw and they‚Äôll get the ball back. If you can‚Äôt hit your foul shots, it means you can‚Äôt be used in a tight game. You know what Chamberlain‚Äôs coach said to him? ‚ÄúIf you were a 90% shooter, we might never lose.‚Äù
MG: You‚Ä¶ You got to know him quite well?
RB: I got to know him, you know, I just joked with him just, you know, said, ‚ÄúYour technique was terrible. I mean, but, I mean, had you stuck with it,‚Äù I mean, there‚Äôs no telling what he would‚Äôve done. I mean, the numbers he would‚Äôve put up would have been insane because the only way they defended him was to foul him.
MG: Chamberlain had every incentive in the world to keep shooting free throws underhanded and he didn‚Äôt. I think we understand cases where people don‚Äôt do what they ought to do because of ignorance. This is not that, this is doing something dumb, even though you are fully aware that you‚Äôre doing something dumb. By the way, there have been countless players like Chamberlain, players who could have been transcendent, devastating, if only they had been open to taking foul shots a different way. Take Shaquille O‚ÄôNeal, up there with Wilt Chamberlain, is one of the greatest NBA centers of all time, but an absolutely horrendous free throw shooter. Barry tried to reason with him once.
MG: You, you‚Ä¶ Oh, you actually talked to Shaquille?
RB: Oh, I tried to get Shaq to change.
MG: Shaquille O‚ÄôNeal was the same?
RB: Shaquille O‚ÄôNeal and I tried to get him do it he said, ‚ÄúForget it, I‚Äôd rather shoot zero than shoot underhanded.‚Äù
MG: I‚Äôm just fascinated by that.
RB: I don‚Äôt understand it.
RB: No, the difference is if Shaq was an 80% free throw shooter, he becomes the go-to guy on the court as opposed to go-to-the-bench guy. I mean, you, you change the dynamic of the game.
MG: No one shoots underhanded, not even Barry‚Äôs teammates followed his lead‚Ää‚Äî‚Ääpeople who saw him shoot that way every day and never miss.
RB: There was one guy‚Ä¶
MG: One guy only?
RB: Only. George Johnson, my teammate with the Warriors. He was, he, I think he was like 48, 50%, something like that and I worked with him for one season, I didn‚Äôt get to stay with him. He didn‚Äôt get the technique down just like, as much as I‚Äôd like it, but I think, eventually, a season or two later, I think George actually shot 80%. I can actually look it up; it would be interesting to see what he did. I‚Äôll get George Johnson‚Äôs stats here, let me see, ‚ÄúGeorge Johnson‚Äôs stats.‚Äù ‚ÄúSorry, I didn‚Äôt get that.‚Äù Okay, ‚ÄúStats for George Johnson, NBA.‚Äù ‚ÄúHere are George Johnson‚Äôs stats from the 2015 NFL season.‚Äù NFL, yeah wrong guy, wrong season. Let me get that. But anyway, we‚Äôll look it up. It‚Äôs, it‚Äôs interesting I think.
MG: But what about on your, on your high school team? Did anyone follow you?
RB: Oh, no, nobody, no. I‚Äôve only had one guy ever come to me, an NBA guy came to me, I won‚Äôt tell you his name, but he came to me, he asked me to work with him, I did it, I worked with him. I had him shoot really well and he never had the nerve to go back and do it when he went back.
MG: Can you tell his name?
RB: No, I don‚Äôt want to say his name. It‚Äôs not fair to him.
MG: ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want to say is name, It‚Äôs not fair to him,‚Äù like it‚Äôs some kind of dark, shameful secret. College basketball is no different. Out of the thousands of college basketball players today, there are just two who shoot underhanded. One is a Nigerian-American who plays for Louisville, called Chinanu Onuaku; the other, is Canyon Barry, who plays for the College of Charleston and who, in case you missed this earlier, happens to be Rick Barry‚Äôs son. In other words, there are only two conditions under which people will try the underhanded free throw. One, if their family is from another continent, and two, if they‚Äôre an offspring of Rick Barry.
Jacob Smith: Anyway, do you want us to just quickly describe, like, what we are and what we‚Äôre doing?
MG: That‚Äôs my producer, Jacob Smith. He hung out with some players on the Columbia University women‚Äôs basketball team and tried to get them to shoot underhanded. Our theory was, maybe this is just a dumb man‚Äôs thing; maybe women are more rational when they‚Äôre on the court.
Ara Talkov: So, we are in Colombia‚Äôs basketball gym and we are going to compare overhand shooting to underhand shooting. Okay, here it goes.
MG: That‚Äôs Ara Talkov, a junior on the team. She missed her first try.
JS: I want, I feel like you could bend the knee a little more than that, that‚Ä¶
MG: Then she makes the next two shots, her first two ever shooting underhanded. But Jacob couldn‚Äôt get any of the Columbia players interested in switching over. Here‚Äôs Sara Mead, senior point guard.
Sarah Mead: Ever since we were young, we were taught to shoot it overhand and, you know, as kids, you kinda play around with the idea of a granny shot or underhand but, yeah, I‚Äôm not sure we‚Äôve ever taken it seriously.
MG: She calls it a ‚Äúgranny shot.‚Äù A shot used by one of the greatest players ever to play the game. Women are as bad as men!
We like to think that good ideas will spread because they‚Äôre good, because their advantages are obvious. But that‚Äôs not true. So why don‚Äôt they? Or to put it another way, what is it about Rick Barry that allowed him to shoot this way and what is it about Wilt Chamberlain and all the others that stands in their way?
More in a moment, after this break.
Now back to our story. Let me try out a theory on you. It‚Äôs from a sociologist named Mark Granovetter. Granovetter is one of the greatest social theorists of his generation. If you‚Äôre an academic groupie like I am, Granovetter is like James Dean. So Granovetter came up with something called ‚ÄúThe Threshold Model of Collective Behavior.‚Äù He was trying to answer the question of why people do things out of character. He used riots as his big example. Why do otherwise law abiding citizens suddenly throw rocks through windows?
Before Granovetter came along, sociologists tried to explain that kind of puzzling behavior in terms of beliefs. So the thinking went, ‚ÄúYou and I have a set of beliefs, but when you throw the rock through the window, something powerful must‚Äôve happened in the moment to change your beliefs. Something about the crowd transforms the way you think.‚Äù Here‚Äôs Granovetter explaining that idea.
Mark Granovetter: There was a lot of intellectual tradition that said that when people got into a crowd, uh, their independent judgment went out the window and that they somehow became creatures of the crowd, uh, and that there was some kind of, I don‚Äôt know, miasma of irrationality would settle over people and they would act in ways that they would never act if they were by themselves or if they weren‚Äôt influenced by the mob mentality.
MG: But Granovetter doesn‚Äôt buy it. He doesn‚Äôt think that being part of the mob casts some kind of spell that makes everyone irrational. To his mind, it‚Äôs much more subtle and complicated than that.
MG: People are pretty much who they are, but if the situation develops in a certain way, then there‚Äôs a domino effect. People, some people are activated, and that activates other people, and that activates other people and it all happens so fast.
MG: Granovetter says that the issue isn‚Äôt about people having beliefs about what‚Äôs right and then suddenly losing those beliefs because they‚Äôre in a mob. The issue is about thresholds.
Now, what does Granovetter mean by that word ‚Äúthreshold‚Äù? A belief is an internal thing, it‚Äôs a position we‚Äôve taken in our head or in our heart. But unlike beliefs, thresholds are external, they‚Äôre about peer pressure. Your threshold is the number of people who have to do something before you join in. Granovetter makes two crucial arguments. The first is that thresholds and beliefs sometimes overlap, but a lot of the time, they don‚Äôt. When your teenage son is driving 100 miles an hour at midnight with three of his friends, it‚Äôs not because he believes that driving 100 miles an hour is a good idea. In that moment, his beliefs are irrelevant. His behavior is guided by his threshold. An 18 year old, maybe drunk, at midnight, in a car with three of his friends, that person has a really low threshold. It doesn‚Äôt take a lot of encouragement to get him to do something stupid.
Granovetter‚Äôs second point is just as important. Everyone‚Äôs threshold is different. There are plenty of radicals and troublemakers who might need only slight encouragement to throw that rock. Their threshold is really low. But think about your grandmother. She might well need her sister, her grandchildren, her neighbors, her friends from church, all of them to be throwing rocks before she would even dream of joining in. She‚Äôs got a high threshold. The riot has to be going on for a very long time and has to involve a whole lot of people before grandma will join in.
Granovetter‚Äôs argument goes on in much more detail, all of it fascinating, and I encourage you, if you‚Äôre interested, to look it up online and read it because it‚Äôs beautifully clear. But for the moment, I just want to focus on the one big implication of Granovetter‚Äôs argument. What people believe isn‚Äôt going to help you much if you want to understand why they try or don‚Äôt try difficult or problematic or strange things. You have to understand the social context in which they‚Äôre operating. Your grandmother‚Äôs belief is that rioting is wrong but there are times when even grandmothers might throw rocks through windows.
Granovetter‚Äôs theory explained a lot of things that had been puzzling to me. So, here‚Äôs a good example. It‚Äôs from an interview I did at the 92nd Street Y, in New York, with the economist Richard Thaler, who‚Äôs one of the leading lights in what‚Äôs called ‚ÄúBehavioral Economics.‚Äù He had a book coming out, called Misbehaving, and I really liked it, and we thought it‚Äôd be fun if we did an event together.
MG: You and I have met before, but the first time we met was at a hotel bar in Rochester.
Richard Thaler: Yes.
MG: The only time I‚Äôve ever talked‚Ä¶
MG: Thaler‚Äôs the kind of guy who‚Äôs interested in everything, including sports, and there was a point in our conversation when he started to talk about the fact that the owners of professional football teams do things, on occasion, that are really stupid and inexplicable. Take the professional football draft.
For those of you who are not football fans, let me explain. Every year, all the draft eligible college football players are thrown into a big pool, and the 32 professional football teams pick the players they want, one by one. The first player taken is the one that people think will be the best professional player; that person gets the biggest salary. The second player taken is the one predicted to be the second best professional player and so on. And after every team has picked one player each, they all start again and do another round. Because the players selected in the first round are considered the most valuable, all the teams fight over them. They pay enormous sums of money and construct elaborate deals to try and acquire those high draft picks.
RT: The interesting thing about that is there‚Äôs a market for picks. So you can trade the first pick for, say, half a dozen second round picks. That‚Äôs what the market says. Now, that implies that the first pick is five times more valuable than an early pick in the second round.
MG: Thaler and a colleague named Cade Massey decide to analyze this assumption. Was it really true that a first round pick was worth half a dozen second round picks?
RT: If you compute the surplus a player provides to his team, meaning how good his performance is minus how much you have to pay him, what we found is the second round picks are actually more valuable than that first pick. But you can get five of those for that pick; it‚Äôs the biggest anomaly I‚Äôve ever found.
MG: The implication of Thaler and Massey‚Äôs work is the teams should trade away their first round picks. They should stockpile players in the second and third rounds, who can be paid a lot less and are nearly as good. This is how you build a winning football team. So, what was the reaction of NFL teams to Thaler‚Äôs idea? Well, not long after he and Cade Massey did their research, they got a call from the Washington Redskins.
RT: It was early in Dan Snyder‚Äôs tenure as owner, and I met him and he said, ‚ÄúOh, we wanna know about this.‚Äù And he introduced me, he said, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm gonna send my people to see you.‚Äù And they flew out to Chicago and met with Cade and me and we told them what our findings were and we basically have two pieces of advice: Trade down and lend picks this year for picks next year.
MG: With that last sentence, Thaler is referring to the second thing he and Massey discovered. Owners sometimes trade a pick in this year‚Äôs draft for a pick in some future draft. They use a rule of thumb to figure out how to value the difference between a player you can use this year versus a draft pick you can‚Äôt use until some future year. And Thaler and Massey discover that the rule of thumb makes no sense. It‚Äôs completely irrational; it massively over values current picks and undervalues future picks. Like a good economist, Thaler talks about the value of that rule of thumb as an interest rate. It‚Äôs like borrowing money.
RT: If you compute the real interest rate, it‚Äôs 137% per year.
MG: In other words, for the privilege of having a player now as opposed to waiting a year, the owners pay a huge premium. They borrow money at 137% interest!
RT: These guys did not get to be billionaires borrowing at 137% per year, but that‚Äôs the rule of thumb they use. So, anyway, we taught his guys, Dan‚Äôs guys, what to do, and then we watched the draft eagerly that year and they traded up and borrowed a pick this year for one next year, so, okay.
MG: In other words, the Redskins did the exact opposite of what they should have done if they were rational. And they weren‚Äôt the only ones. Thaler and Massey have consulted for three NFL franchises now and no one has ever followed their advice. It gets worse. There is a very respected economist, named David Romer, who famously proved that football teams would win more games if they didn‚Äôt punt, if they simply use all 4 downs to try and gain 10 yards as opposed to giving the ball away to their opponents. So, since Romer published his work, are NFL teams less likely to punt on fourth down? You guessed it. No.
RT: To tell you how big this is, if you did this right, what we, we think you would win one game a year more. If you also learned to go for it more often on fourth down, another game and a half. So just being smart, you‚Äôd win at least two games a year on average.
MG: Two extra wins, in a 16 game season, just by acting a little bit differently. Who wouldn‚Äôt do that? But nobody would! Now, is that because they‚Äôre stupid? Because they have irrational beliefs? That was my first thought when I was listening to Thaler talk about his football research, ‚ÄúThose dumb football owners.‚Äù But that can‚Äôt be right. You don‚Äôt get to their level by being dumb. Surely, this is about thresholds. Football owners and coaches are a small group of people, they all know each other, they‚Äôve all done things a certain way for a long time and doing things that way has made them a lot of money. They have a high threshold; these are a bunch of grandmothers. The only way any of them is going to change their behavior is if some radical goes first. And there are no radical owners in the NFL. There‚Äôs just Richard Thaler, a geeky, middle-aged economist from the University of Chicago, with a bunch of equations that you need a PhD to understand.
RT: There‚Äôs some geek at every team who‚Äôs read our paper. You know, think of the Jonah Hill character in the movie Moneyball, right? And nobody pays attention to that guy.
MG: Apparently, there aren‚Äôt a lot of radicals in basketball either, just the Barrys and Chinanu Onuaku, the Nigerian American who plays for Louisville, And, as it turns out, Mark Granovetter.
Mark Granovetter: When I was a teenager, and this would‚Äôve been mostly in summer camp because I never really played basketball outside of summer camp, but I got to be very good at, at underhand free throwing.
MG: Oh, really?
MR: Yeah, yeah. I used, I used, I could make almost every shot.
MG: I was wrong. There are three conditions under which someone will try this shot. One, if you‚Äôre an offspring of Rick Barry, two, if your family is from another continent, and three, if you‚Äôre a world famous sociologist. This, I think, gets us a little closer to the puzzle of Wilt Chamberlain. In his autobiography, he has this throwaway comment on the subject of shooting underhanded. Chamberlain wrote, ‚ÄúI felt silly, like a sissy, shooting underhanded. I know I was wrong. I know some of the best foul shooters in history shot that way. Even now the best one in the NBA, Rick Barry, shoots underhanded. I just couldn‚Äôt do it.‚Äù
Two key things here: first he writes, ‚ÄúI know I was wrong.‚Äù Just as Granovetter would say, it‚Äôs not Chamberlain‚Äôs beliefs that are getting in the way, he knows it‚Äôs wrong. Then, ‚ÄúI felt silly, like a sissy.‚Äù Remember the player for Columbia who described shooting underhanded as a ‚Äúgranny shot‚Äù? That‚Äôs what Chamberlain‚Äôs talking about. He doesn‚Äôt want to look foolish. He‚Äôs a high threshold guy; he needs everyone to be doing something new before he‚Äôs willing to join in. But Rick Barry, he‚Äôs different.
Rick Barry‚Äôs dad comes to him when he‚Äôs a junior in high school and says, ‚ÄúYou really ought to shoot underhanded.‚Äù Rick‚Äôs a pretty good free throw shooter at that point, maybe 70% or so, but his dad tells him, he can do better.
MG: And your initial reaction is, ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want to do it,‚Äù right? Because it seemed to you like a‚Ä¶
RB: Well, I can‚Äôt do it. I mean, it‚Äôs for the girls. I said, ‚ÄúDad,‚Äù I always remember it and I tell people, ‚ÄúDad, they‚Äôre gonna make fun of me. That‚Äôs the way the girls shoot, I can‚Äôt do that.‚Äù He said, ‚ÄúSon,‚Äù and I remember this so clearly like it was yesterday, ‚ÄúSon, they can‚Äôt make fun of you if you‚Äôre making them.‚Äù And the first game I remember where I did it was on the road in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. I shot the free throw, a guy in the stands yells out, ‚ÄúHey Barry, you big sissy shooting like that.‚Äù And the guy next to him, and I heard him very clearly, he said, ‚ÄúWhat are you making fun of him for? He doesn‚Äôt miss!‚Äù So my dad‚Äôs prophecy came true and I was cool from that point forward, so I didn‚Äôt care anymore what they said. If I‚Äôm making them that‚Äôs all that really matters.
MG: What‚Äôs interesting is that Barry actually has the same initial reaction as Wilt Chamberlain, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to look like a sissy.‚Äù But he thinks about it and he decides it doesn‚Äôt bother him, or rather, his drive to be a better shooter is stronger than his worry about what others think of him. That‚Äôs exactly what it means to have a low threshold. The same mindset that can lead someone to do something bad, like a teenager driving drunk with very little encouragement, can also lead to brave or innovative behavior. If you have a threshold of zero, you‚Äôre someone who doesn‚Äôt need the support or the approval or the company of others to do what you think is right.
Now here‚Äôs the catch, the person who thinks this way is not always easy to be around. Barry was never embraced by his fellow players. There were a couple of notorious articles about him in the 1980s full of quotes like this from a former teammate, ‚ÄúIf you‚Äôd got to know Rick, you‚Äôd realize what a good guy he was. But around the league, they thought of him as the most arrogant guy ever. Half the players disliked Rick, the other half hated him.‚Äù Here‚Äôs another quote, ‚ÄúHe lacks diplomacy. If they sent him to the UN, he‚Äôd end up starting World War 3.‚Äù
RB: Yeah, well, I was, I was about winning and I was about giving my best effort and I had a very difficult time, uh, accepting the fact, I wouldn‚Äôt accept the fact, that a teammate is not gonna play his hardest.
MG: Barry‚Äôs been out of the game for more than 30 years, but just talking about basketball made him tense. There was a right way to play the game and when people didn‚Äôt play it the right way, it drove him crazy.
RB: Watch a game, right, the guy shoots free throw and misses it. Everybody goes up slaps his hand. What the‚Ä¶ Where the hell did that come from? I wanna know who the guy is, that got, that started doing that and who was the genius that said, ‚ÄúMan that‚Äôs a great idea, let‚Äôs go up and, you know, slap the guy‚Äôs hand and let‚Äôs go up disturb his concentration when he‚Äôs supposed to be focusing on shooting his free throws and worry about having to slap the hands of his teammates.‚Äù
MG: Do you hear what upsets him? The social part of the game, players paying attention to each other‚Äôs feelings as opposed to their own performance.
RB: Plus the fact that if he misses it, you should go up and smack him in the head for missing the free throw, not slap him on the hands and saying, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs okay,‚Äù because it‚Äôs not okay. You just cost us a point. I mean I, I go nuts when I watch this kind of stuff and nobody would talks about that. And it‚Äôs something that somebody brought up, somebody copied, and now everybody does it. And it‚Äôs stupid. I, I just have a real problem with that.