— Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane (orig.) but updated for Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra
A book review by TERRY LYONS
PROVIDENCE - As Christmas fast approaches, this column offers an idea for a great gift for any basketball fan, whether it be a grizzled purist from NBA and ABA days of yore, like me, or for a young, impressionable adult just embracing the game through the eyes of Lebron James or Steph Curry. The recommendation today is to buy the book - “Bad News,” the turbulent life of Marvin Barnes, Pro Basketball’s Original Renegade, by Mike Carey, but be forewarned, not every real life story ends happily.
I met Mike Carey in the early 1980s when he was covering the very beginning of the “Bird, McHale and Parish” era of the Celtics for the Boston Herald. Mike and I shared a love for ice hockey and the old American Basketball Association, as I was schooled on the Julius “Dr. J” Erving days of the Virginia Squires and the New York Nets (Hempstead, Commack and Uniondale - not Piscataway, East Rutherford) and Mike was fixated on the career of one, Marvin “Bad News” Barnes, he of Providence College, the Spirits of St. Louis and an NBA career gone bad.
These are Mike’s stories.
Carey first "became acquainted" (his words, not mine) with Marvin Barnes in 1977 when he was playing for the Detroit Pistons and Carey was the night news editor for the Boston Herald American. Carey had written a lengthy article for the Sunday edition of the paper delving into the many run-ins with the law of the former Providence College all-American player who had refused a request for an interview for that story, stating, “I don’t talk to reporters no more, you’re all scumbags.”
My view of the book can best be described as follows, noting that when I chat with Carey next, I’ll be sure to say, “You had me at scumbags,” but I was left wondering if the term was one word or two? For my readers' benefit, I won't spoil what came immediately after Carey's first exchange with Barnes, a day or so after the Herald story was published.
Here's what I will say!
Amidst an introduction that is astonishing but certainly not surprising, Carey is sure to catch your attention with a small dose of Marvin’s “Bad News” side of life, navigating his mob associations, fraternizing with pimps, drug-dealing and dosing but Carey is quick to establish the fact Barnes played three years at PC with all three resulting in NCAA Tournament bids and one trip to the NCAA Final Four, in 1973. when only 25 (not sixty-something) teams qualified for the right to play for a national championship. Only the great Bill Walton of UCLA was a better pro prospect at the time.
Barnes shocked the basketball world when, in 1974, he decided to sign a seven-year, $2.2 million dollar contract with the ABA’s Spirits of St. Louis, formerly the Carolina Cougars, shunning the more secure, established NBA and its Philadelphia 76ers franchise that drafted him with the second overall pick. Barnes was the first top-three draft pick to go to the ABA.
Now for those unaware, the ABA has a great renegade reputation which seems to be increasingly embellished over the years. It was known for a more “up-tempo,” less defense, more finger-roll (see George Iceman Gervin) style of play than its NBA rival. As an everyday fan of the league, I can’t say I buy-into all the mythical stories from ABA days gone by. I enjoyed hundreds of games and saw a very competitive Nets team play damn near every night. But then again, I wasn’t traveling the beat with Marvin “Bad News” Barnes.
A Hall of Fame coach in the great Larry Brown, who will forget more basketball in five minutes this evening than I've learned in a lifetime of dedication and hard work behind the scenes of the game, described Barnes thusly; “Right from the start of his career, Marvin was special, one of my favorites,” said Brown, channeling his usual phrase to describe a player before coming through with the juice. “Besides having all the skils, he had unbelievable natural instincts. I had always thought Bobby Jones, who, in my opinion was the greatest defensive forward of the ‘70s and ‘80s, could stop anyone. But, he couldn’t handle Marvin.”
That statement, sends shivers down my spine. That statement to basketball aficionados provokes a HOLY S%*T reaction. As does the rest of this book, by the way.
Carey captures it all. Barnes’ floppy hats, his leather bells, his parading around town with the most gorgeous women in his silver, glistening Rolls-Royce with a red mobile phone long before ANYONE had a mobile phone (and it cost him $2,700 a month to buy it). He goes back to the beginning and takes you through a ride in that Rolls. It’s a ride that is exciting and astonishing but incredibly predictable and ultimately sad. He takes you through the college recruiting, past a never-considered look (by coach John Wooden) to the only college hoops dynasty of UCLA, to the U of Cincinnati to PC.
He brings you to Barnes’ pro basketball career, explained in perfect detail, noting Barnes' infatuation with the lifestyle of hardened criminals which led Bad News to carry not one but two guns at all times. Now, these are not stereotypes and they aren’t tall tales. They are the truth, from multiple sources, including Barnes himself. In fact, Carey passes along insights from the time of Barnes’ imprisonment when he would call collect “three or four times a week,” to talk sports and of his experiences behind bars. That relationship, which continued after Marvin’s release, endured through a time when Carey was asked to be godfather of Barnes’ infant daughter, as they remained close, “through one incredible crisis after another,” said Carey, “through self-destructiveness that (Carey) would discover, was the essence of Marvin, a perpetually misguided soul who would never secure a firm grip on life.”
Get the book, my friends, and have yourself a Merry little Christmas, now.
Please see this site for more information and to purchase the book: https://www.amazon.com/Bad-News-Turbulent-Basketball%C2%92s-Original/dp/1613219636
MILWAUKEE - (Staff report from official news release) - The Milwaukee Bucks announced that Mike McCarthy was named Chief Operating Officer for the organization. McCarthy brings over 25 years of sports and entertainment experience to the Bucks staff, where he will be involved in all aspects of the team’s business operations including growing and strengthening the team’s day-to-day business operations and contributing to the strategic development of the new arena and surrounding development.
“Mike is one of the most successful and respected sports executives in the world, and he’s proven time and again that he has the vision, expertise and innovative spirit to build highly successful businesses across the sports and entertainment landscape,” Bucks President Peter Feigin said. “As part of Mike’s role at TLA he has been consulting with us for over a year now and his excitement to join us full time speaks volumes about the potential he sees in the Bucks organization and the city of Milwaukee. He will be an incredible asset for our entire staff as we continue to build a world-class organization on and off the court.”
McCarthy joins the Bucks after spending the previous three years as the Executive Vice President of Media, New Business & Events for The Legacy Agency, where he represented broadcast talent, helped corporate clients develop media strategies that would maximize media value, and advised the Bucks on all aspects of the team’s broadcast and digital content planning, including assembling a broadcast team of world-class talent led by Gus Johnson, Marques Johnson, Jim Paschke and Jon McGlocklin. McCarthy launched an events division for TLA that oversaw two sold-out events in Soldier Field in Chicago, and negotiated a multitude of venue deals and media partnerships while overseeing the advertising platforms, box office and game day operations for those and several other events.
“The strides the Bucks organization has made in recent years under the leadership of Peter and this committed ownership group has been remarkable, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute my expertise to the vision for what this team can become for the people of Wisconsin,” McCarthy said.
Prior to his time at TLA, McCarthy spent six years as the Vice Chairman/CEO of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues & Scottrade Center, where oversaw the strategic vision for all aspects of the Blues’ business including finance, marketing, ticket sales and service, sponsorship sales and service, hockey operations, and food and beverage operations. McCarthy also oversaw the $79 million renovation of St. Louis’ historic Peabody Opera House, which had been closed for 20 years, and delivered over 100 events in the space during its first year of operation following the re-opening.
From 1982 through 2005 McCarthy went from intern to the President of MSG Network, ultimately overseeing a staff of over 500 full-time and freelance employees while helping to build the regional network into the gold standard for a regional rights holder. During his tenure MSG Networks grew into a nearly $400 million business, and McCarthy’s strategic vision for game broadcasts, sports talk and interview shows, and original content led to numerous accolades, including 75 Emmy Awards.
NEW YORK – (Staff report from Official News Release) – The leaves are falling, the first storm of the season had the Michigan cheerleaders forming ice-angels in the snow, Thanksgiving Day meals are being planned, the Rockefeller Center tree is lit and Christmas lights will soon adorn our homes. It’s time for one of the greatest new traditions (dating back to 2009) of the year. The NHL Winter Classic will soon be upon us and EPIX producers are on the job for the Road to the Winter Classic.
Premium TV network EPIX and the NHL, partnering for a third season, announced EPIX Presents Road To the NHL Outdoor Classics will make its U.S. television premiere on Friday, Dec. 16 at 10pm ET on EPIX with four weekly episodes. This season, the series tells the stories of the athletes and coaches from four teams and their journey to two games played on outdoor rinks. In commemoration of the League’s Centennial Celebration, the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will compete in the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic on New Year’s Day in Toronto, Canada. The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues meet in the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on January 2, in St. Louis. In addition to its airing on EPIX, U.S. hockey fans will be able to stream each episode of EPIX Presents Road To the NHL Outdoor Classics as a simulcast on EPIX.com and NHL.com.
Produced by 54-time Emmy award winner Ross Greenburg, narrated by Bill Camp (Jason Bourne, Birdman, 12 Years A Slave) and presented in partnership with NHL Original Productions, EPIX Presents Road To the NHL Outdoor Classics will provide viewers with a sports tech-driven, intimate look at these athletes in their professional and personal settings, capturing all the action, drama, heartaches and triumphs as they unfold.
“The Road To series is extremely popular with our viewers and NHL fans,” said Mark S. Greenberg, EPIX President and CEO. “I’m excited to have Ross Greenburg back and using his immense talents to give audiences a rare and personal look at how the athletes and coaches prepare for these special games – on and off the ice – while balancing the demands of home and life on the road.”
(A sample of previous Road to the NHL Winter Classic Programming)
“Just as the NHL Winter Classic has become a New Year’s tradition and annual high point of our season, the Road To series has become appointment viewing for sports fans each December,” said Steve Mayer, NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer. “This year, the series takes it to another level, chronicling four teams instead of two as they prepare for and compete in both the NHL Winter Classic and the NHL Centennial Classic. We are looking forward to another exciting edition of the series with producer Ross Greenburg and his team, our partner EPIX and, most important, our clubs and the best athletes in all of pro sports, who provide amazing access.”
The Red Wings, Maple Leafs and Blackhawks are all Original Six teams – having played in the NHL in the years prior to the League’s expansion in 1967. The St. Louis Blues joined the NHL that year and are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season.
The Red Wings prepare for the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic as veterans of outdoor games, having played in the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in Chicago (a win over the Blackhawks), the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. (a shootout loss to the Maple Leafs) and the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ at Coors Field in Denver (a win over the Colorado Avalanche). The Maple Leafs are making their second-ever outdoor game appearance following their victory over the Red Wings in 2014.
The Blackhawks will play in their third NHL Winter Classic® on Jan. 2, 2017 (after their 2009 game at Wrigley Field and 2015 matchup with the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.). In addition, the Blackhawks faced the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series and the Minnesota Wild in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. The Blues will play in their first-ever game outdoors.