Sidney Wicks: Getting Under Rick Barry’s Skin, 1974

[While thumbing through one of my clip files, I stumbled across this brief newspaper article. The headline above tells the story, which comes from the San Francisco Examiner’s Frank Blackman on October 25, 1974. Good stuff From Way Downtown.]


Crouched over, sweat pouring from his body, eyes bulging slightly Sidney Wicks intently beat a steady tattoo on “the skins.” Pop, pop, pop, with the left hand, then a repetition with the right. Sometimes, when the Portland All-Pro really felt the beat, he’d use both hands at once. 

It was an artful job of playing, but unfortunately for Rick Barry, the “skins” were attached to the Golden State Warrior forward’s left and right thighs. All Tuesday night during Portland’s one-point victory over the Warriors in Oakland, Wicks used Barry’s legs as portable drums. 

Sidney Wicks

It’s Wicks’ innovative method of disrupting Barry’s concentration and timing when the Warrior All-Pro has the ball. The logic is that Barry will be so busy trying to slap away and fend off Wicks’ hands, he won’t be able to attend to the most important business at hand, putting the ball through the basket. 

Obviously, Barry isn’t enthralled by Wicks’ constant attention. “Before the game, I went to the officials and told them to watch him,” said Barry after Tuesday night’s game. “They said they’d call it if he was hitting me, but not if he was just touching me.”

“Then he started to do it again, and I screamed at them. But they wouldn’t call it. What’s the use,” Barry disgustedly concluded.

When the teams were last here for an exhibition game, Barry became so upset by the pounding he was taking, he appealed to the officials for help. Nothing. They just watched, listened, but still refused to blow the whistle. 

When Wicks’ love-taps continued and grew in intensity, Barry blew up and blasted the refs. Apparently, he didn’t phrase his complaint in delicate language, because the refs offered Rick a comfortable seat on the bench for the rest of the night.

With Barry gone, the young, inexperienced Warriors became disorganized, and a close game quickly became a rout. It’s something that could happen again, provided Wicks can rile Barry up enough. 

Not that Sidney thinks he’s guilty of anything. “It’s pro basketball, they let you use your hands,” Wicks protested vehemently. “Instead of checking the man on the hip, I check him on the thigh. If I’m doing something wrong, then they have to call it.

“They didn’t call it, so I must be doing something right.”

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