All politicians must make believers out of the doubters, must take the haters and show them a different way. If they want to stay relevant, they have to showcase their strengths and hide away their secrets.
Harrison Barnes, who more and more frequently is referred to as "The Senator," has spent much of his young NBA career trying to disprove certain prevailing opinions.
Coming out of North Carolina, he had to prove that he was athletic enough to play in the NBA. Until he posted a top-five vertical at the combine, people were seriously whispering that he might not have the strength and agility to play in the league.
That was a thing, I kid you not.
Throughout his rookie year, even though he started every game, there were concerns about his consistency. Concerns about his mental makeup. But then, headed into the Denver series, he seemed to take a step towards fulfilling that potential, fulfilling the promise that he had exhibited as the nation's top recruit coming out of high school.
Let's just revel in the magic for one second before moving on:
Talent. Strength. Vision.
Everything you wanted out of your draft pick. Especially after tanking to get him.
How much is Harrison Barnes worth?
The details are out on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's new contract, and the bar has been set. How much is Barnes about to make in his new contract with the Warriors, and can they afford to keep him?
Then, of course, Andre Igoudala came riding into town and stole Barnes' starting spot (not stole, really. Some might say earned). The rest is history.
Barnes, trying to lead the second unit, and playing way too much f'ing iso-ball (goddammit Mark Jackson this still pisses me off even after all this time. Really? Barnes just iso-ing until hell freezes over was the cure for the second unit??! Ahhh...okay...moving on again), struggled under the pressure and had a pretty shitty season by most standards.
His FG% dropped from 43.9% in his rookie season to 39.9% his second year (TS% 52.6% dropped to 48.6%).
He only started 24 of 78 games played.
So, okay, okay, we know all this already.
The story line of all story lines is how Steve Kerr waltzed in, convinced Andre Iguodala to run the second unit instead of Barnes, and basically saved Harrison's career.
That story line might be completely accurate.
Harrison deserved to be put into the best possible situation, and (assuming he put in the work), he deserved to shine.
Wait, you say he's putting in work?
WITH THE LEGEND!
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And therein lies a most interesting problem.
Once upon a time, Barnes' potential seemed limitless. He was the golden boy, the once-in-a-decade player with the thousand megawatt smile. If he truly does grow into himself -- turn into the fullest version of himself -- can he ever be content being a third, or more likely fourth option on a team?
Will Harrison really be able to put it all together playing behind Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and now Draymond Green?
Shit, howdy. I guess that's a pretty good problem to have.
Barnes' 2014-2015 season proved that he can be a crucial component of this team moving forward.
While his numbers did not blow down any doors, he has proven that he has the ability to step up when the stakes are raised.
Harrison is as composed and well-spoken as any professional athlete I've ever seen.
He understands what is expected of him. He wants to get there. To the promised land.
He wants to fulfill his potential.
Will the man they call "The Senator" be able to gain the upper hand? Will he be able to cobble together the votes necessary to swing popular opinion to enable him to (for example) command a $15-20 million salary per year?
It's a testament to his mental makeup and to his commitment to excellence that he has continued to keep his career, his "campaign" if you will, alive through all of the whispers about his imminent demise (being traded for Kevin Love), all the ups and downs regarding playing time, and all the questions about his worth. That seems to be the true mark of a successful political man. If you buy enough stock in yourself, and if that stock has true merit, eventually the public will follow suit.
For now, he's out there hoisting shot after shot, smiling and sweet-talking the constituency. Glad handing potential donors and kissing babies.
Hoping that you'll join his side.