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Lakers’ Forgotten Studs: Dick Barnett, the Third Weapon – Fan’s Reflection

Dick Barnett’s Scoring Touch Played a Key Role as Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and the Lakers Reached the NBA Finals in 1963 and 1965

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Throughout the history of the Los Angeles Lakers there have been a number of standout players who will never have their numbers retired or have statues erected in their honor - call them the Lakers' Forgotten Studs.

As a Lakers fan I want to make sure their legacies are remembered.

Today's installment: Dick Barnett

The Third Weapon

Dick Barnett played for the Los Angeles Lakers for just three years (1963-1965) but managed to leave a mark on the franchise.

As a 6'4" guard-forward, Barnett had already played two professional seasons with the Syracuse Nationals before being acquired by the Lakers.

Barnett immediately solidified his role as the third scoring option on the Lakers behind future Hall-of-Famers Elgin Baylor and Jerry West.

In his first season with the Lakers (1963) he averaged 18.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 2.8 APG on 47% field goals. In 1964 he improved his scoring to 18.4 PPG followed by a dip in 1965 to 13.8 PPG.

But the individual performance is not the only thing in Los Angeles.

Lakers fans care about winning - and Dick Barnett helped the Lakers win.

1963 Finals Appearance

In 1963 Barnett helped the Lakers to a 53-27 (.663) regular season record and a playoff birth.

Barnett averaged 16.8 PPG in the 1963 playoffs as the Lakers beat the St. Louis Hawks to advance to the NBA Finals against rival Boston Celtics.

The Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals that year (as they would do six times in the 1960's) in a 4-2 series despite Barnett's solid play.

1965 Finals Appearance

After a disappointing 1964 first round playoff loss to the St. Louis Hawks, the Lakers advanced to the 1965 NBA Finals to once again face the Boston Celtics.

But the Lakers were at a severe disadvantage throughout the 1965 playoffs after Elgin Baylor missed nearly the entire postseason.

Jerry West stepped up in Baylor's absence with some of the most amazing postseason play in NBA history by averaging an astounding 40.6 PPG throughout the playoffs.

But Dick Barnett also stepped up his game. After averaging 13.8 PPG in the regular season, Barnett emerged as the Lakers second leading scorer throughout the playoffs at 17.5 PPG on 48% FG's.

Despite the strong play of West and Barnett, the Lakers once again fell to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, this time 4-1.

An All-Star and Two-Time NBA Champion - in New York

The Lakers traded Barnett to the New York Knicks in 1966 where he enjoyed the best season of his career by averaging 23.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 3.5 APG. He ended up spending nine seasons with the Knicks, becoming an All-Star in 1968 and a member of the Knicks' 1970 and 1973 title teams.

While Dick Barnett did not fulfill his title dreams in Tinseltown, he was a key member of the early-1960's Lakers.

He leaves a brief but meaningful legacy with the Lakers that should not be forgotten.

Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. For more from this author, or check these out articles:

Lakers' Forgotten Studs: Eddie Jones, the Silky Assassin

Lakers' Forgotten Studs: Nick Van Exel and His Killer Swagger

Lakers' Forgotten Studs: Cedric Ceballos, Scoring Machine

Lakers' Forgotten Studs Archive: Rick Fox | Norm Nixon | Happy Hairston | Sedale Threatt | Elden Campbell | Bob McAdoo | Sam Perkins | Jim Chones | Rudy LaRusso

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