PF/C Marvin Barnes, who led Providence to the Final Four in 1973 and was the 2nd overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft (instead signing with the ABA’s St. Louis Spirits), passed away earlier today at the age of 62. A young Bob Costas did play by play for the Spirits in those days, and this conversation with St. Louis Magazine’s William Powell (7/19/13) he recalls Barnes’ most famous off-court incident :
The Spirits had future Hall of Famers like Moses Malone and streetballers like Fly Williams. But the biggest character was Marvin “Bad News” Barnes. Do you have a favorite story about him?
The one that people most frequently want to hear is the one from Kentucky, the morning after another loss at Freedom Hall in Louisville to the very strong Kentucky Colonels. Teams didn’t travel by charter then, so we meet at the airport for the commercial flight back to St. Louis. The traveling secretary, who also was the trainer, hands out the itinerary. It reads, “TWA Flight 305. Depart Louisville, 8 a.m. Arrive St. Louis, 7:56.” And Marvin Barnes walks over to me, holding the sheet of paper in his hand, looks down at me from a foot above me, drapes his arm around my shoulder, brandishes this itinerary, and says, “Bro, bro, bro, I do not know about you, but as for me, I am not getting on any time machine.”
Now, some people took that to mean that Marvin was dopey and confused, but Marvin was actually smart. I mean, he was self-destructive beyond belief, but he wasn’t dumb. He knew full well that he was saying something funny. But he was staying in character to do it.