A Bright Future
This is just my first year with the Mavericks, but I want to make an impact on this organization as soon as possible. Here’s how I’ll do it.
By Harrison Barnes
Before the season, one of the biggest things Coach Carlisle told me is that I’m going to have to embrace the process.
There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs, a lot of good and bad, but I just have to have a level-headed approach to it and just continue to work.
My growth in this small period of time has been accelerated due to injuries to some of our key players, particularly Dirk and D-Will. Yes, I’ve been able to score the ball, but there’s also another side, the responsibility of getting teammates open, finding the extra pass, trying to get guys shots. A lot has gone into that process, but it’s been great so far. I’ve loved it, just the opportunity and the challenge. And now the next part is doing that and getting wins.
Remember Your Roots
How did I get here?
I’m a 24-year-old from Ames, Iowa. It’s a smaller city, but it has a pretty good basketball history. Players like Fred Hoiberg and Doug McDermott come from there, and so did Dick Gibbs, who you might have to look up. I actually wore the same number at my high school as Fred Hoiberg. (They haven’t retired my number. It’s still out there for some kid that wants it.)
Then I went to North Carolina and played for Roy Williams, who’s a legendary coach. He was super old-school, and I think I have an appreciation for that now, because that’s the type of discipline you need when you go to college for the very first time and you’re on your own, you think you’re hot stuff. Coach always had a way of humbling you and making you just focus on the work on your game, as opposed to all the fanfare.
For example, we had to wear suits everywhere: suits on the plane, suits to meals. Coach Williams was a big believer that wherever you go, you represent the University of North Carolina, so you have to be a professional. That’s the same approach that I’ve had in the league. I still wear suits. But it’s also the mentality that you have when you approach your extra shooting, when you approach how you go into practices and how you go into games. You want to be as professional as possible and put your best foot forward.
I could have gone pro after my freshman year like a lot of guys do these days, but I went back for my sophomore season. That second year was really good for me just because it helped me just develop more as a person. I feel like I matured more. I was able to, when I came to the NBA, kind of handle the ups and downs and rigors of this league. Golden State drafted me No. 7 overall in 2012, and I felt like I was ready to go right away. Four playoff runs and a championship later, I’ve kept that same worker’s mentality I adopted at UNC, especially in terms of my everyday routine. It’s paid dividends.
Find Success in Failure
When we won the championship in 2015, I thought that was the biggest summer of my life. But, no, this summer was by far the most packed I’ve ever had.
Playing in the Olympics in Rio was a great way for me to just get away from everything that had been going on. Obviously the biggest thing was the loss in the Finals and not playing well during that, then free agency and switching teams, and there were a lot different factors going on there in terms of playing with former teammates, playing with the free agent that’s on the team that I used to play on, and playing on the same team as the guy you lost in the Finals to. But it was just great to just be playing basketball in a different country, away from everything, and just kind of focusing on that. And of course I got engaged to my fiancée, too.
I remember when we were talking about free agency with my agent, one of the teams I wanted to go to was Dallas. I said, “Hey, call Dallas. See if they’re interested.” But they were like, “Nah, we got some other guys on the board. It’s not gonna work.” And I’m thinking, “This is just a great start for me.”
But then, a couple days later, they asked if I was still interested, and things were able to work out. I spent time with everybody and they seemed positive about it, too. I think that really helped especially in the preseason with their confidence and their patience. Obviously I wasn’t playing great at the time, so that was good that they didn’t overreact.
It was pretty nuts to be able to sign my contract in Ames, my hometown. Initially it was going to be this big thing where we all fly to New York and we have this big party and all of that. But I was putting on a camp at the time in Ames, so Coach Carlisle was like, “Dude, if you’re in Iowa working out and doing camps, I’ll just come to you, man.” I signed my letter of intent to North Carolina in Ames, I got drafted and came back here to celebrate, and now to be able to sign a new deal with a new team and start a new chapter in Ames as well… That’s pretty cool.
Dare To Be You
Dallas is a first-class organization. It was long before I got here and it will be long afterwards.
But hopefully I can bring a combination of the experiences I’ve had thus far and my work ethic. There’s no doubt in my mind that guys work hard around here, but it’s continuing to carry that torch that Dirk has kept alive for the last two decades, and trying to keep that going.
I’m usually the last player to leave the court after practice, but being the last one there just to prove a point isn’t necessarily important to me, because I believe there’s a difference between work and accomplishment. I just try to make sure every single day I put my work in. I’ve been able to be around a lot of great players in this league in a small amount of time, and the one thing that’s consistent about them is they all have a routine. They all have something that they do every single day to get better, to work on their game, to hone in on certain things. So now that I’m in a position where I have more responsibility, I want to make sure that I’m putting in my work every single day as well to stay sharp.
For example, there’s always a ball-handling segment in there because that was a big weakness of mine, coming in here. It’s almost been a label that I’ve carried for years, the fact that I can’t dribble the ball. I always need to work on my ball-handling. It’s something that I’ve always tried to work on, all the time, and I’ve just tried to get better at it.
Now that I’m getting into the lane and scoring at the bucket, I think it’s nice to see it in action. When you work on things for a long time and you’re still struggling to kind of get over the hump, it’s like, ‘Man, I’m putting in the work, but it’s not really showing up yet.’ It’s good to finally see that.
When you very first get drafted, you think, “I want to stay at this one place forever. I want to do that.” Especially after you win a championship, like we did in Golden State in 2015, you still have those same thoughts. But when I made the decision to come to Dallas, I kind of had to close one chapter fully and move on to the next one. That’s really the mentality I took. That book is closed. I’m sure when I retire, I can open that back up and reevaluate it, but right now, all my focus is on Dallas and the Mavericks. I’m very happy to be here, I’m glad it worked out, and I just look forward to continuing to get better.
To learn more about BBVA Compass and their Bright Future Principles, visit bbvabright.com.