SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO – After an hour of preaching fundamentals, telling old stories about playing in the NBA, running through pick-and-roll drills and taking questions, Warriors television analyst Jim Barnett saw that the children wanted more.
As Barnett walked off the court, several Warriors basketball campers approached with even more questions. He bent down, put his hands on their shoulders and listened.
One boy who wanted a picture with Barnett saw his cell phone malfunction multiple times before there was a successful snapshot. Barnett looked him in the eye and praised him for not giving up.
Asked afterward about how he’s able to resonate with generations old and young, the 70-year-old Barnett smiled.
“I think kids can read you, and they can read sincerity, and they can read whether someone really cares about them,” Barnett said. “And I do care.
“I’m pretty transparent as a person. I wear my emotions on my sleeve…I’m a human being, and I think they recognize human beings no matter what age they are and no matter what age I am. I think there’s a way of connecting with them and talking with them and not talking to them and not talking down to them. I wish I could impart so much more information.”
Barnett at the Warriors Basketball Camp at El Camino High relished in his role as a team ambassador – a job he would have performed for Golden State without a major role on the broadcasting side had a “mutual agreement” to step aside from the booth gone forward.
Last season was supposed to be Barnett’s final season as a full-time broadcaster, but it didn’t work out that way. Fans voiced their desire for Barnett to return, and a replacement never materialized. In the end, there was a mutual decision to have him come back to broadcast all the games.
“Right now in my brain, I’m thinking I’m just going to keep doing it as long I can, as long as I’m able to do it and do a good, credible job, and as long as people want me,” Barnett said. “I’m not thinking of retiring right now.
“The way I feel right now, if you said, ‘Can you do it for three or four more years,’ I’d say ‘absolutely…’ I don’t want to retire, OK? I can’t think about retiring and sitting in the house in Orinda. And what the hell am I going to do? I can’t play tennis anymore. I’m not very good at golf.”
Entering his 30th season calling Warriors games, Barnett turned 70 earlier this month. He recently walked up the spiral staircase of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris without a problem with his knees and believes that it’s the game and interacting with younger generations passionate about the game that keeps him feeling young.
Barnett said he had “mixed” emotions about last season but that he was energized for what’s to come.
“What’s happened is that whole affair has made me rethink everything and not take anything for granted, so it’s kind of made me younger in a way because I’m going to work harder,” Barnett said. “I worked harder last year.
“I’m going to bring everything that I have, and I still have a lot of energy…I have enthusiasm and passion, and that never dies.”