Rick Barry - Joins American Basketball Association (aba)
Joins American Basketball Association (ABA)
Following his sophomore season in the NBA, Barry became the first superstar to abandon the NBA and join the fledgling ABA, a smaller league that was struggling to attract larger audiences. Barry's decision to make the jump was based on several key factors. First, his father-in-law, Bruce Hale, was the one offering Barry a spot on his ABA team, the Oakland Oaks. Second, and perhaps more important, the Oaks were offering him a contract that, at the time, was unheard of. On June 20, 1967, Barry signed a three-year contract worth $500,000. Plus, Barry was awarded fifteen percent stock in ownership of the team and promised five percent of ticket sales that exceeded $600,000. The deal made Barry, who had been making $30,000 a year as a Warrior, one of the highest paid players in the game.
There was only one flaw Barry's plan: he was bound to the Warriors for one more year under the option clause of his contract. According to the agreement, common to the times, although Barry's two-year contract with San Francisco had expired, Warriors' management reserved a one-year option that obligated Barry to remain with the team even though a new contract had not been formulated. As a result, when Barry announced his departure from San Francisco, Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli, filed a $4.5-million lawsuit against Oakland Oaks owner, singer Pat Boone. When a federal judge ruled that the option clause was valid, Barry decided to sit down for the 1968-69 season rather than return to the Warriors.
Following his one-year, self-imposed exile from the game, Barry finally joined the Oakland Oaks. During the 1968-69 season, Barry, as expected, immediately became the ABA's hottest drawing card. He averaged 34.0 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. He became the only player in history to win scoring titles in the NCAA, NBA, and ABA. After the season's end the Warriors filed suit to force Barry to return to the team, but failed to convince a lower court or the California State Court of Appeals that their claim to Barry was valid. The Warriors also lost their bid to collect $350,000 in damages from the Oaks.
With one legal battle over, it wasn't long before Barry found himself embroiled in another. Just days after the final judgment in the previous lawsuit, Boone sold the Oaks to Earl Foreman, who immediately announced that the team would be moved to Washington, D.C. and become the Washington Capitals. Barry, who insisted that he had an oral agreement with the Oaks that he would not have to leave the area, believed that such a move voided his contract. Wanting to stay in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was settled with his wife and sons, on August 28, 1969, Barry negotiated with his old team, the Warriors, for a five-year contract.
Barry was thrown back into the courts when the now-Washington Capitals sued the Warriors for $10 million and the Warriors, in turn, counter sued the Capitals for $8 million. Ultimately the judge in the case ruled that Barry was still committed to the Capitals. Barry was required to join the team in Washington, and the Warriors revised the pending contract so that Barry would rejoin the Warriors after he had fulfilled his obligation to the ABA. Despite being required to move with his team, Barry managed to continue his performance on the floor, averaging 27.7 points per game during the 1970-71 season with the Capitals.
When the Capitals became the Virginia Squires following the 1969-70 season, Barry grew more unhappy and more vocal about his dissatisfaction with playing in Virginia. Finally the Squires sold the remainder of Barry's contract to the New York Nets. Barry played for the Nets for two seasons. During the 1970-71 season he averaged 29.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. The following year he averaged 31.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game.