Life is good for former St. John’s point guard Erick Barkley. There is no NCAA investigation to bother him. Nobody questions the car he drives anymore. Barkley is currently on the injured list with tendonitis in his knee and has rarely played, appearing in five regular season games. He is third on the Blazers depth chart at point guard, behind veterans Damon Stoudamire and Greg Anthony.
Despite rarely seeing action on the court, Barkley is content with his role and will be ready to play when called upon. “I’m just going to continue to work hard, just waiting for my opportunity,” he said. “As long as they knock on the door, I’m answering.”
He may not play much this season, but the coaching staff envisions him in their plans. “Erick’s done a great job, he’s worked hard and I got a lot of confidence in his ability. I think he’s making a lot of progress as a rookie,” said Trailblazers head coach Mike Dunleavy. “He’s got a good feel for the game, he’s got quickness, and make plays a point guard should make”.
Besides making big money, he also has a chance to do something that has proved elusive for many veterans such as former Knick Patrick Ewing and Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone. In their 15 seasons, the championship ring has been elusive to them. With the Blazers playing excellent basketball, Barkley may get a ring in his rookie season. For him that is more valuable than playing time itself. “I could be with the Clippers or the Bulls and be losing and not developing my skills, the way I should be,” he said. “I’m playing against All-Stars every day and I’m just bound to get better,”.
Nearly halfway through his rookie season Barkley has no regrets about leaving St. John’s early. “I have guys on my team that I had posters of on my wall when I was younger, and I’m finally living out a dream,” he said referring to his childhood idol Scottie Pippen. He has moved on to the next level but life is certainly good for him especially with the Blazers. “I got the luckiest deal out of anybody in the draft. I got a chance to win a ring in my first year,” Barkley said.
Barkley is thousands of miles away in Portland. His rookie season has been a learning experience so far. Playing with the likes of Scottie Pippen, Rasheed Wallace and Shawn Kemp is not a bad way to make a living.
With no more investigations and no more controversy, life is good for Barkley. The only thing that would make it sweeter is winning the ultimate prize: the NBA championship.