It happens every so often in Ross Hall. Someone excitedly comes up to Shirley Barnes and says, “I just heard your son is an NBA player!”
“Most people don’t know I’m Harrison Barnes’ mother,” said Shirley, a secretary in the political science office. The only visible evidence near her desk are a couple small images of Harrison in his number 40 Golden State Warriors uniform and his bobble head doll on the window sill.
Harrison is a starting small forward for the Pacific Division-leading Warriors. He’s 6-8, 225 pounds and averages 11.8 points a game for first-year coach Steve Kerr, whose structured style agrees with Harrison.
“He’s having a great time,” mom said about her son who’s in his third National Basketball Association season after being drafted seventh overall in 2012. “I think this could be a special season.”
Shirley does not think of herself as an NBA mother. “My son just plays basketball.” Then she will rub elbows with current and former NBA greats and grasps her family’s good fortune. “Every now and then, I realize how blessed we are.”
The long NBA regular season lasts 82 games, and Shirley will get to about half Golden State’s contests. She will “pop in and out” of nearby cities when the Warriors play in Minnesota or Chicago or another locale a direct flight away. She plans to see seven games during next month’s winter break.
“The department has been so supportive of me,” she said.
Shirley said Harrison grew up a basketball fan. As a toddler he skipped cartoons and watched his mom’s videotapes of Michael Jordan games (she’s a huge Jordan fan). As a second-grader he told his teacher he was going to be an NBA player someday. Three years later, my wife – one of his fifth grade teachers that year – talked about this tall, skinny kid who dominated athletics on the playground.
Harrison played for the Ames High varsity as a ninth grader before later leading the Little Cyclones to two state titles. He followed that by starring at the University of North Carolina.
Shirley and Harrison communicate everyday, and on Monday he told his mom he had the day off. How did he spend it? He went to the gym to work out and was going to take an ice bath. Oh, the life of a pro. – Steve Jones