Sunday, December 4, 2011

Where is Erick Barkley? Let the Quest Begin...

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By Peter Walsh

For as long as I can remember, I have always been into basketball in a big way. For the first 11 years of my life I had an infatuation with the game but would not consider myself a “fan.” I didn’t follow any team particularly closely; I was as fair weather as they came.

But, that all changed in 1999 when I was 12 years old. ‘99 was the first time in my life that I took anything seriously—I was the biggest St. John’s Red Storm fan in the world.

Everyday at school during recess, my friends and I would imitate our favorite players on the team—Ron Artest, Bootsy Thornton, Lavar Postell, Anothny Glover and Erick Barkley. This team embodied the spirit of New York City and captured my imagination to the fullest degree. In my opinion, no team—professional or collegiate—has represented NYC better since. They were tough, gritty kids coming from some of the roughest sections of the 5 boroughs to team up and unleash hell on the Big East that season.
Barkley was selected by the Trailblazers as the 28th overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft

At the center of it all was Barkley, who was the best player on the court that season. Yes, Artest has all the accolades and the lengthy NBA career, and Thornton was the MVP of the Big East Tournament, but it was Barkley who was the driving force behind all of them. Barkley was a tenacious defender and had a pitbull mentality—once he got on you, it was a fight to the death, and more often than not Barkley was the victor. Plain and simple, he shut down opposing point guards, harassing them the length of the court for 40 minutes a game.

But Barkley wasn’t all defense, the kid had tremendous all around game. He was a cerebral offensive player, and put up numbers good enough to be considered for the John Wooden award. Granted, many NYC point guards often can’t live up to the immeasurable hype surrounding them, and it must have been even tougher for a kid to play for the hometown squad. But, Barkley not only had the game, he also had the work ethic to put together a solid pro career, either domestically or internationally.

So what happened?

After leaving St. John’s after his huge Sophomore year amidst swirling controversies and rumors of him taking improper benefits (it was later revealed that the extent of his “illegal” actions was borrowing a friends car) the unflappable point guard was chosen 28th by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2000 NBA Draft. After spending two years in the League, it seemed as if Barkley fell off the face of the Earth...

Full story from SLAM Magazine:

Off the Grid

And for more stories from this writer, follow Pete's tweets @goinginsquad.

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