Harrison Barnes called upon Jerry West to receive training during last offseason. Barnes grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, whom West acquired with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I had seen him at summer league my rookie year (in 2012 after he was drafted seventh overall out of North Carolina), and I would just jokingly say to him, 'Look man, when are we going to get some work in?'" Barnes said. "And he would laugh and say, 'Yeah, we'll see about that.' The first summer goes by, and I'm calling and calling (West). He's busy. That's typical. So I'm like, 'OK, that's expected.'
"Then the next year goes by, and I say, 'Jerry, we still haven't gotten out on the court. What's going on? I'm trying to get some time with the Logo.' Then it keeps going on. And then the (2013-14) season was over, and he called me and said 'Look, you should come down to LA.' I said, 'I'm there, when do you want me to come?' He's like, 'How about next week?' We got a chance to work together, and it was great.
"I knew that Kobe learned a lot from Elgin Baylor and from Jerry West. I would watch (video of) Jerry, because he used to always say that his pull-up was unbelievable. No matter where he was on the court, he could always square up and get you a shot no matter what, so I looked up his clips after I heard that. I saw that kind of stuff, and obviously when I got drafted here I saw some more of his stuff. And then getting on the court with him? That was nuts.
"We'd work out in the morning. We'd get some work in, and then he'd show up and put me through a workout. He'd show me stuff he would do, and then we'd go out to eat and talk about what the league is like today, stuff he saw back in the day. Who were the toughest players he guarded? Who were the tough players he went against? What was his mentality going into games? And then we just talked about life, about how he enjoyed LA, about my childhood, his childhood, all that type of stuff."
Barnes is averaging 11 points in the playoffs.
"I'm watching him become a more complete offensive player," West said. "An awful lot of it is his desire, and there's no reason he can't really take his game to another level. There's absolutely no reason he can't. I think he's come a long way … He wants to be great so badly. He's good now, and I think he has improved. But he can get a lot better, I think, as he continues to work on these things."