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The rehabilitation continues. "In most people's minds Rick Barry doesn't have any feelings," he says. "He's a jerk who cares only about himself. That Rick Barry would be very bitter because he thought he was so wonderful that he'd feel it was their loss, not his. But the real Rick Barry is a lot deeper than that."
"All former professional athletes, not just Barry, are victims," Meschery says. "But Rick may be more victimized than the rest of us who weren't quite so good. It's a terribly difficult transition from that world to this. Not so much in giving up the sport as in giving up the idea of oneself. You had come to see yourself as larger than life. Rick was so hungry for fame that when he got it, it was easy for him to get lost in it. He was so caught up in image that he probably lost sight of himself. People were eager to make allowances for everything he did, and so there was never any reason for him to stop doing them. He was constantly told—so naturally he came to believe—that life on a pedestal was reality. In fact, it wasn't. He went through a terrible divorce. He lost a job. I think maybe for the first time in his life he has to deal with what the real world is all about. He has to get work. It's not a question of whether or not he needs the money. He has to work because he's a purposeful, single-minded man who needs to see himself as something. He's a great producer. But to produce, he has to first be asked. And now, who's going to ask him?"
In the dream there are only five seconds left in the game, and Barry's team is down by one point. It has been down by 12 or 14, but he has single-handedly brought it back with a dazzling display of shooting and passing.
He has the ball on the right side, foul line extended, and he can hear the crowd urging him on. "They're going crazy," he says. "I've been playing out of my mind the last few minutes, doing it all in front of the home folks, and they love it. I fake my man left, and get past him and head for the hoop. Now here's the interesting thing. All of a sudden I'm going up and I've got more spring and bigger hands than I've ever had before. And that's all I ever needed, because I could always figure a way to get around the guy who was guarding me, but then I had to worry about the guy who picked me up, because I was never afforded the luxury of being able to jump over people and dunk. But in the dream I've got Julius' hands and jumping ability, and I can do some of the things that Julius can do. So I've gotten by the first guy, and now I'm up in the air. And the second guy comes to pick me up, and, I mean, I absolutely just jump right over top of the guy and—crash!!!—jam it home, and we win the game." He closes his eyes, the better to soak up the supreme ecstasy of the moment.
"It feels so great, so wonderful," he says. "I hear them cheering for me."
Cheering just for him.
"And the best thing is," Barry says, "that they're not just cheering for me because I won the game. They're cheering for me because they like me. In my dream, the thing that's different is that they really like me."