March 16, 2014
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
Travis Best and Drew Barry were together again this weekend, and while there is no telling what they were like in private, seeing their shared public time at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro was a treat – much like watching the two point guards play together for Georgia Tech from 1992-’95.
Best was honored as Tech’s “Legend” over the weekend, and when he was interviewed in the Greensboro Coliseum by the ACC Network, Barry was given a microphone as well.
There was some ribbing.
When a broadcaster suggested that Best was able to put up big career numbers (16.6 points and 5.6 assists), “in spite of playing with Barry,” Best opted to take a high road of sorts.
“Well, seeing as he’s right here,” the Springfield, Mass., native said, “The man made it easy on me; I’ll give him some love.”
Opponents did no laughing when squaring off against the dynamic duo.
Best averaged 12.5 points and 5.7 assists as a freshman in ’91-’92 as Barry redshirted.
For the next three seasons, they were double-trouble.
Barry averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 assists in his freshman season on ’92-’93, when Best ramped up to 16.3 and 5.9.
When asked to name a moment of great memory, Best chose that season.
“Winning the ACC championship … we beat the eventual national champion in North Carolina,” he said. “We were peaking at a good time. We had a guy that probably a lot of people forgot about, Martice Moore, 6-foot-8 and versatile.
“That whole crew with James Forrest, and Malcolm Mackey and of course Drew … it was a memory that we will never forget, cherish right on this floor.”
Drew’s senior season was his statistical best.
He averaged 20.2 and 5.0 in ’94-’95 as Barry moved up to 13.3 and 6.7 (on the way to becoming Tech’s all-time assists leader). “The man averaged 20, and 10 of those came off passes from me,” Barry pointed out.
It helped that Drew could shoot the long ball. He shot 39.3 percent on 3-pointers in his Tech career. Plus, he could get to the rim.
“We were both capable of scoring and passing the ball so it worked out perfectly, and obviously we wanted to win so we had to complement each other,” Best recalled.
Eventually, a writer somewhere came up with a gem. “The best line was Georgia Tech has the, `Barry-Best backcourt in the nation,’ ” said Barry, Tech’s 2006 ACC Legend honoree.
Best went on to become a first-round draft choice of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers in ’95, and he played in the NBA with Indiana, the Bulls, the Heat, the Mavericks and Nets through 2005 before playing four more seasons in Russia and Europe.
His best NBA season came in ’00-’01 with the Pacers, for whom he averaged 11.9 points and 6.1 assists that go-round.
“I think Travis could average 20 for Georgia Tech right now,” Barry said. “Look at this guy … clean, looking good.”
Former Tech coach Bobby Cremins, who recruited both players, was feted in Greensboro as well over the weekend.
They all had some good times on The Flats, and Best was smiling broadly upon being honored for his work in basketball’s best conference. He did indeed look good, not much different than he did as a Yellow Jacket.
“It feels great,” he said in Greensboro. To be acknowledged for what you’ve done, and all the hard work that’s gone in … it was great.”
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