Former ABA star Barnes dies at 62

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Marvin Barnes, who led Providence College to the Final Four in 1973 and starred in the old American Basketball Association, died Monday. He was 62.

Kevin Stacom, a college teammate and one of Barnes’ closest friends, told the Providence Journal that Barnes died at a home in Providence. The cause of death was not known, but Barnes had battled drug addiction for years.

“Marvin will always be remembered as one of the greatest Friars of all-time,” Providence College Athletic Director Bob Driscoll said in a statement released by the school. “He will forever be linked with coach (Dave) Gavitt’s amazing team that reached the 1973 Final Four.”

A 6-foot-9 forward, Barnes grew up in Providence and was a high school star before going on to an All-American college career, forming his team’s core with point guard Ernie DiGregorio. With Barnes averaging 18 points and 19 rebounds, the Friars made it to the Final Four, losing to Memphis State in the semifinals after Barnes twisted a knee and was relegated to the bench.

As a senior, Barnes averaged 22 points and 18.7 rebounds and was the second overall pick of the 1974 NBA draft, behind only UCLA’s Bill Walton. Instead, Barnes opted for the rival ABA and won rookie of the year in 1975 after averaging 24 points and 15.6 rebounds for the Spirits of St. Louis.

Barnes went to the Detroit Pistons in 1976 before bouncing between the Buffalo Braves, Boston Celtics and San Diego Clippers. His last season in the NBA was in 1980.

Barnes was in trouble with the law several times over the years. He pleaded not guilty to the 2012 charge of indecent solicitation of a 17-year-old girl and was scheduled to go to trial on the charge in November.

Court spokeswoman Kara Picozzi said Barnes was due for a court hearing Monday morning and did not appear.

Barnes acknowledged in the past that he was addicted to cocaine and said he was trying to recover.

When sentenced in 1990 for stealing videotapes from a San Diego adult bookstore, Barnes’ former lawyer said the basketball star had been in five different drug treatment programs. He’d also been arrested for trespassing, being under the influence of narcotics and burglary of a locked vehicle.

“I went from the top to the bottom and I’ve seen everything in the middle,” Barnes said in a 1994 interview with The Associated Press. “A couple of times, I thought I was going to die. I know God’s got plans for me because I’m not dead.”

Barnes also served as president of the nonprofit Rebound Foundation, which serves disadvantaged children.

Involved in more than one altercation growing up and in college, Barnes earned the nickname “Bad News” for his off-the-court problems and lived up to it just one month into his rookie season when he left the Spirits and turned up at a pool tournament in Ohio.

Before he left his job as New Jersey Nets’ president and general manager, Rod Thorn joked about his very short head coaching days with the Spirits and his relationship with Barnes.

Barnes had his own set of rules and Thorn frequently fined him, saying the figure reached about $30,000.

In an effort to change their relationship, Thorn waited for Barnes to have a good game and the two spoke for nearly two hours about the need for Barnes to be a leader on the team.

The next morning, Barnes missed the team plane.