Q&A with Jon Barry: Former NBA player returns for Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Tournament

September 3, 2010 

Jon Barry has dedicated his life to the game of basketball since the day his arms were big enough to hold one. His father, Rick, is an NBA Hall of Fame player. His three brothers -- Brent, Scooter and Drew -- all played professionally, as did he.

But the 14-year NBA veteran won't have a basketball in his hands when he visits Hilton Head Island this weekend. Instead, he will be asked to trade in his sharp shooting skills for a bag of golf clubs.

Barry, now an NBA analyst for ESPN, will participate in the 2010 Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Tournament, beginning with today's Locals Day Tournament.

The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette caught up with Barry to discuss his golf skills, LeBron James' summer decision and advice he has for high school players.

Question: Will this be your first trip to Hilton Head Island?

Answer: I actually used to have a home on Hilton Head Island. I love the area. It's a great place to take your family and just relax.

Q: What are you looking forward to about this particular trip?

A: I love playing in charity golf events and doing everything I can to help a great cause. It's nice that it's Labor Day weekend so I can bring my kids down and we can have a great weekend. My two boys (Tyler, 12, and Eli, 9) are going to play in the Locals Day Tournament (today), so they're real excited about that, and I am, too. I've never played Harbour Town Golf Links, but I know it's a PGA Tour stop, so I'm really looking forward to that (Sunday).

Q: How often do you play golf?

A: Only once per day. That's all.

Q: Any good?

A: Nah, I'm more a scratch player.

Q: I can't interview an ESPN NBA analyst without talking LeBron James. What were your thoughts on his decision to join Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami?

A: I hate to see two great, great players -- in my mind, two of the top three in the league with he and Wade -- join up. I like seeing them go against each other. We're not going to see the greatness of each player on a nightly basis like we're accustomed to seeing. That's disappointing. But I can't blame LeBron because you're ultimately judged by the number of NBA rings on your finger, and that team is going to be one of the favorites.

Q: So you think the days of watching LeBron and Wade take over a game are over?

A: To a certain degree. It's not that they're selfish, but there's no way they can play the same way they've always played. We're used to seeing them make every play for their team. They're the best players on the floor at all times. That's just not going to be the case anymore. They're going to have to share the spotlight.

Q: Is it too early to consider the Heat one of the favorites to win the championship this year?

A: I'm not quite on the wagon of them winning it all yet. I believe it's going to take some time. I know the Celtics did it a couple years ago when they added Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to Paul Pierce's team, but that's a different scenario. Those guys were great players, but they weren't two of the best three in the league. I don't know that it's going to jell for the Heat. They will have to put a lot of pieces together around them. Championships take time. You have to go through a learning curve and take a loss to get over the hump. I think it's going to take them more than just one year to get it done.

Q: A local pastor here on Hilton Head Island, Chris Benek, said that LeBron should have stayed in Cleveland for $1 per year, enabling the Cavaliers to surround him with top-level talent. Your thoughts?

A: That's kind of ridiculous. If he plays for a $1, he should have played for the (Los Angeles) Lakers. If I would accept a salary of $1, I would go to L.A. because hands down, they would win the NBA title. But that's a little ridiculous. I don't think there's any way this would have ever happened.

Q: I think it's safe to assume you were a star on your high school team in Concord, Calif. What advice would you have for a high school athlete with dreams of making it big in any sport?

A: In today's day and age, you see kids aren't playing multiple sports. That would be the No. 1 thing. If you want to make it in one sport, make your decision when you enter high school and dedicate yourself year-round. There are so many great players and it's so difficult dealing with the pressure when you're one of them. ... There are only 450 guys in the NBA, so the chances of making it are slim to none. The real goal should be getting to college, getting an education and learning to become a man.

INFOBOX: 2010 HHI CELEBRITY GOLF TOURNAMENT

When: 9 a.m. shotgun start today through Saturday

Where: Friday at Arthur Hills Course, Saturday at Robert Trent Course in Palmetto Dunes, Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links

Admission: Free on Saturday, $5 donation Sunday

More information: For a list of celebrities, visit www.hhcelebritygolf.com

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