No. 5: Rick Barry
Rick Barry took one of the more interesting paths for an all-time great basketball player. After leading the nation in scoring as a high school senior, Barry was drafted second overall by the San Francisco Warriors in the 1965 NBA Draft.
He was immediately dominant, winning Rookie of the Year in 1966 and leading the league in scoring his second season with an eye-popping 35.6 points per game; he would lead the Warriors to the NBA Finals that year and average 40.8 points per game in a six-game losing effort.
Then everything changed. In a feud with Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli about money Barry felt was owed to him, the dynamic scorer became the first high-profile player to leave the NBA for the ABA, signing a lucrative contract with the Oakland Oaks. A court challenge by the Warriors forced Barry to sit out a season, but when he finally made his ABA debut he picked up right where he left off.
Barry averaged 34 points per game in 1968-69, technically his third season, and despite his team being moved to Washington was an All-Star the following year, then again the next two seasons for the New York Nets. Barry would finally make his return to the Golden State Warriors in 1972 and play the next six seasons for them, expanding his game as one of the first “point forwards” and leading them back to the NBA Finals in 1975, where they won the championship and Barry was named Finals MVP.
An aging Barry finally slowed down in his final two seasons with the Houston Rockets, but his career impact was still incredible. Barry was a 12-time All-Star, two-time scoring champ, made six All-NBA teams and four All-ABA teams and was the best player on two Finals teams, including one champion.