When provoked, Barry may still respond aggressively. Trying to get past Tom Hawkins of the Lakers in a game last month, Barry slapped out at Hawkins' hands. Hawkins, hitting back, was caught and thrown out of the game. A couple of weeks later Barry and Dick Van Arsdale of the Knicks got into a pushing match. While both were being restrained, Barry says, the Knicks' big center, Walt Bellamy, decked him with a neat right cross. Thurmond promptly cautioned Bellamy against future indiscretions—and the Warriors went on to win by 21 points as Barry took down 14 rebounds. The next day all the newspapers talked about how Van Arsdale had "held" Rick to 22 points.
Barry has some views on that subject, too. "They're making a lot of defensive geniuses these days out of guys who don't score," he said recently. "But they don't stop you in this league. There are a lot of guys who work hard at defense, they play you close and they make you work for every shot. But it all comes down to whether you can put them in or not. In the final analysis, it is not them stopping you but you missing it." He kept talking in the second person, but as he went on and expanded, the "you" seemed to contract more and more from the general to the personal.
"There is nobody—nobody—that can really stop you in this league," Rick Barry said.