A funny thing happened to Jim Barnett on the way to retirement. The Warriors unretired him.
The unretirement took place a few weeks ago. The Warriors, who wanted to replace Barnett as TV analyst, decided not to replace Barnett. So, all praise to the Warriors.
Barnett turns 70 next month and it seems the Warriors wanted someone different, maybe a little younger. Stuff like that. They would keep Barnett as a team ambassador. With his enthusiasm and energy he'd be great. Then there was talk of Barnett doing some road radio games. Then there's this — forget everything you learned about Barnett stepping away. It's like it never happened. Barnett is not gone. He will do all TV games next season.
"Last year, we had reached a mutual agreement that I was going to retire," Barnett said over the phone. "I never asked management who they were thinking of. I went about my business, did my job. I knew I was going to be involved with the Warriors in some capacity. All year long, we just kept an open arrangement, we kept an open dialog and it was always good. Neither party was worried about it.
"People started writing things. There was a little groundswell, I guess. The way I look at it, nothing materialized for the Warriors. I can't speak for them, but nothing materialized as a replacement. They realized how much the fans embraced the fact that I'd been around a long time. It just worked for both of us to say, 'Hey do you want to do the games next year on television rather than work radio, rather than do this or that or whatever?'
"It's something that never was quite in concrete (the retirement). The concrete never settled and never matured and never set. And we're back in business again. I said, 'We'll take it one year at a time. I sign one-year contracts all the time. That suits me fine. We'll just see how things go.'<TH>"
Let me pause a moment to say a few things. Jim Barnett is a local treasure the way Bill King was and Lon Simmons was before he retired. Barnett expresses something fundamental about the Warriors. I won't define it. Define it for yourself. But you know it's there and you know it's special, and you know if it were to cease next season you would miss it.
I'm going to quote Barnett a lot more in this piece. You don't need to hear from me. You need to hear from him.
How does he feel about coming back?
"I feel embraced by the fans. I'm grateful for what sports writers wrote. It's very flattering. I'm humbled by it. I accept it with grace. And I embrace our front office. I trust these people. They realized they don't have to replace me. They're flexible.
"I've found a whole lot of energy. This is a very special team. These young men are the best I've ever been around in all the years of doing this. They're only going to get better. They've got the personnel that can certainly challenge anybody in the league. I'm glad to still be a part of that and I'm kind of rejuvenated."
Has Barnett talked to new coach Steve Kerr?