The great and tragic Marvin Barnes has passed away at the age of 62. Barnes was a dominant player in his all-too-brief career in the ABA, before transitioning to the NBA where he played for the Detroit Pistons, Buffalo Braves, Boston Celtics and San Diego Clippers.
The star of a wildly-entertaining 30 for 30 documentary last year, Barnes’ promising hoops career was cut short by drugs and alcohol. Per the Providence Journal:
Barnes, 62, died at a home in Providence, according to one of his dearest friends and old Providence College teammate Kevin Stacom. Stacom said he had been in touch with Barnes’ family earlier today.
Barnes struggled with substance abuse in what was a shortened professional career and once his basketball days ended. Stacom said he saw Barnes about 10 days ago at a local restaurant and knew his friend was not feeling well. […] “He struggled with his demons but he was a great friend,” Stacom said. “He was a great talent and a great teammate but most of all he was our friend.”
Barnes was the second overall pick of the 1974 NBA draft, behind only UCLA’s Bill Walton. But Barnes eschewed the NBA for the rival American Basketball Association and the Spirits of St. Louis. Barnes dominated in the ABA, averaging double figures in scoring (24.0 ppg) and rebounding (15.6 rpg). […] Barnes moved to the NBA’s Detroit Pistons in 1976-77 and played for three other NBA teams, including 38 games with the Boston Celtics in the 1978-79 season. Barnes’ career came to a premature end in 1980 after what he would later describe as wide-spread drug use throughout his career.