OAKLAND — Just over an hour before tipoff of the Golden State Warriors’ 112-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks, Harrison Barnes was standing in front of his locker in the visitor’s locker room at Oracle Arena — a copy of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden sitting on the shelf — when a big smile flashed across his face.
“It’s great to still have those connections, those friendships,” Barnes said, referring to his former teammates, with whom he won the 2015 title. “Some of these guys are still like brothers to me. The bond that we had on that team was pretty special.”
Earlier in the day, Barnes, who’s bloomed on the court in Dallas, struck a decidedly Golden State-ish note off it.
Barnes published an interview in The Players’ Tribune with Dr. Harry Edwards, a professor emeritus of sociology at UC Berkeley and one of the leading voices in the fight for equal rights for black people. Barnes asked Edwards about his relationship with Colin Kaepernick, the evolution of activism in sports and how to make a meaningful impact as an athlete.
“I admire Harrison and the way he approaches that side of his life,” said Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle.
“He’s about all the right things,” Carlisle continued. “And my two years with him have been phenomenal.”
Steve Kerr, his old head coach, has kept tabs from afar.
“Last year, Harrison emerged, I thought, as their go-to guy,” Kerr said. “He never had that opportunity here. He was a fourth option here, so I thought he really seized his opportunity in Dallas to play a bigger role and be a more dominant force.”
Barnes credits Kerr and Andre Iguodala for guiding him during his time with the Warriors — one of the sports world’s foremost incubators for social activism.
“When coach Kerr first got here, he has an ability — as people now know — to really talk about a lot of different things, in depth,” Barnes explained. “And I think that kind of exposed me to some different ideas. Just continually kind of learning on my own, reading.”
Iguodala, the eccentric MVP of the 2015 Finals, also helped Barnes curate his reading list.
“We’d go back and forth and I think that kind of helped me just understand and figure out, ‘Look, what [do] I want my voice to be?’” Barnes said.
As Barnes establishes that voice in Dallas, he has nothing but love for his first franchise — the one that cast him aside to go all in on a dynasty built around Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
“It’s always great to come back here. From a basketball standpoint, it’s a great atmosphere and all that type of stuff,” Barnes said. “But being drafted here, being part of a championship team, you definitely just get those emotions when you come back here to play.”