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After months of searching, I finally caught up with Erick Barkley and found out what he has been up to since his playing days at St. John’s. After some tough times, I am happy to report that he’s doing just fine and has rediscovered his love of the game.
SLAM: You played on such great teams at St. John’s, what it was like being a hometown kid and playing for St. John’s?
Erick Barkley: Aw man, it was a great experience. Just to play at home in front of friends and family, it was a great thing at that time. We were a good team but we didn’t get the respect we deserved. People didn’t respect us the way we should have been, but we went pretty far being that we didn’t have a big guy. It was a great run we had, and I wouldn’t wish for nothing better than what we did.
SLAM: Did you feel any extra pressure, being from New York and playing for St. John’s and going deep into the Tournament… Did it ever get to you?
EB: Nah, I never felt any pressure. I just focused on whoever we played next, that’s who I was locked in on. Just like when I was on court, I never really heard the fans that much. God gave me a gift to tune things out.
SLAM: After college, you were drafted by Portland, then bounced around a little bit. What happened there?
EB: I went first round, 28th pick to the Trail Blazers, which was both a gift and a curse. The gift is, you receive the wealth, but with the wealth also comes a lot of problems that I wasn’t ready for at the time. The basketball, it was good, but I wasn’t playing. At the time, I was coming from a great program and I was young—I just wanted to play. But to take a backseat like that on a veteran team, which is understandable now, but at the time I wanted to play. I learned with the veterans that were there, I learned a lot, but I just wanted to play. I guess the coaches (Mike Dunleavy and Mo Cheeks) didn’t have me in their plans yet. I guess I had to leave, and after that everything just went downhill for me, man. San Antonio got rid of me. Went to Europe, and when I was in Europe, it was just hell [laughs]. It was just hell when I went to Europe.
SLAM: What happened out there?
EB: Just not getting paid the money I thought I deserved…My numbers were solid out there.
SLAM: [Interrupting] I always felt like you never got a fair shot. You were a great on-ball defensive player and a cerebral offensive player, I thought you could have been a great floor general. I guess it just wasn’t your time…
EB: I can’t call it, man… I thought I could have been a good asset with either Portland or San Antonio. I think I was playing pretty well, I was holding my own against the vets in practice. I really don’t know what happened, I guess I just didn’t fit the coaches’ plans. Maybe it was the money.
SLAM: I cut you off before, but you were talking about Europe…
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