Warriors' Hall of Famer dominating a sport with a funny name
The second greatest Golden State Warrior won a gold medal over the weekend.
Rick Barry, who probably meant more to the Bay Area than any NBA player not named Steph Curry*, was awarded a first place in the Pickleplex pickleball tournament in Punta Gorda, Fla.
Despite the fact that he's 75 years old, Barry was playing in the under-60 men's doubles competition at the 4.0 level (players with advanced skills.) His doubles partner was Jeff Johnson.
Barry tweeted that he was especially proud of the win because some of his opponents were more than 20 years younger than he.
The Warriors' Hall of Famer is starting to make a name for himself on the pickleball circuit. In November, he won silver in an open-division tournament in Florida.
Thanks to my great partner Jeff Johnson we won gold at the Pickleplex pickleball tournament in Punta Gorda, FL. Proud of the win because I played against men 20+ years younger. pic.twitter.com/HLH6xn1AsG— Rick Barry (@Rick24Barry) January 13, 2020
It figures that the greatest underhand free throw shooter in NBA history would master the underhand serve required in pickleball. And that 6-foot-7 frame has to be intimidating to opponents trying to pass him at net or lob over his head.
Pickleball, a game similar to tennis but also incorporating some of the skills of badminton and ping-pong, is the fastest-growing sport in America. Played mostly as doubles, it has enjoyed more than a six-fold increase in numbers over the last six years, according to the USA Pickleball Association.
While it snowballed in popularity at senior centers in sunbelt states about 10 years ago, most recently it has seen its greatest growth in younger players.
The sport was invented by a Washington state family in the 1960s and named after their dog, Pickle.
* We're not counting Kevin Durant due to his relatively short career with Golden State.
Mike Moffitt is an SFGATE Digital Reporter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Mike_at_SFGate