broadcasting work was during the 1981-82 season, when he did color on 17
SuperSonics games on KIRO-TV in Seattle. That season the Sonics also were to
start their own cable channel, and Zollie Volchok, the GM, asked Barry to be
the team's broadcaster and do all their games. "I thought I had a
deal." Barry says.
Barry, the deal he made with Volchok included a provision that Pam, his new
wife, who is two years younger than Rick, would accompany him on the road and
keep stats for him as she'd done the season before. But in September, while
Rick and Pam were in Lake Tahoe honeymooning. Barry learned that Pam was no
longer part of the deal. The Sonics have a policy, instituted by their coach.
Lenny Wilkens, barring wives and girl friends from traveling with the team.
Barry had just
gone through an acrimonious divorce, leaving his wife after a long, stormy
marriage. Having seen that marriage fail at least partially because he was on
the road so much, he didn't want to risk it happening again. Barry wanted Pam
with him at all costs. He offered to fly with the team and send Pam on separate
flights so they could be together on the road. The Sonics declined. No wives.
No girl friends. It was policy.
He has not worked
The last five
years have been brutal: the falling-out with Mieuli and Attles; the fiasco at
Houston; the divorce, which isolated Barry from many of his friends; the
release from CBS; the disappointment in Seattle.
that I didn't turn to alcohol or drugs ought to prove I never will," Barry
says. "Just about the only good thing that happened to me was Pam." He
looks at her and smiles. "I'm very happy now, with her. Very
What is most
striking about Barry is that he actually doesn't seem bitter about the events
of the last few years. Surely some of that equanimity is the product of sound
investments. He's financially secure enough that he doesn't have to work to pay
next month's rent; for the time being, at least, he can wait until he finds
something that he likes. He's disappointed, but not discouraged. Hurt, but not
sad. He remains, incredibly, an optimist.
scraping bottom," he says. "I'm certainly due for a rise. I'd like to
get back into broadcasting. I might even like to coach in the NBA if the right
situation came along. I think I'd be good at it. I'd try and make it fun for
the players, the way I always wanted it to be."
And if he had a
player like Rick Barry? Great talent. Pain in the butt.
He laughs and
says, "I think I'd know how to handle him. I've been there."