A dominant force
Big man Earl Barron hopes to anchor Iowa Energy
By Matt “It’s MillerTime” Miller
Wells Fargo Arena can hold up to 17,000 fans, and even at that size, it’s easy to spot Earl Barron. At 7’0” tall, Barron, who has already won an NBA championship, is a rare combination of a dual threat of a big man in the paint, while possessing a silky smooth stroke from the perimeter. He can be a coach’s dream and an opposing coach’s nightmare. Back in the NBDL, Barron is the man in the middle for the Iowa Energy. With hopes of an NBDL title on the horizon, Earl is also trying to return to the NBA.
“The biggest thing I’m working on this season is being consistent,” said Barron, who was traded to the Iowa Energy on Nov. 5 from the LA D-Fenders. “I need to rebound and attack the basket a lot more. Every night I need to show that I’m capable of being a focal point at both ends of the court.”
The determination in Barron’s voice sounds like a man on a mission, trying to find success in an ever-changing league. Barron, a University of Memphis graduate, began his professional career with the Turkish team Tuborg Pilsener in 2003 after never being drafted by an NBA team. He spent the 2004 pre-season with the Orlando Magic but was waived before the season. Barron’s longest NBA stay was with the Miami Heat from 2005-08. In 2006, Barron won an NBA championship playing for Pat Riley and alongside NBA greats Shaquille O’Neal, Dwayne Wade, Gary Payton and Alonzo Mourning. During the 2007-08 season, Barron played 46 games and started 15 for the Miami Heat. He averaged 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 19 minutes of play.
“It was crazy,” said Barron, speaking about his team that beat the Dallas Mavericks 4-2 in the NBA Finals. “We just started rolling that year. We had the same game plan each night of attacking, getting to the line and playing good defense.”
The Iowa Energy, which claimed the 2009 NBA D-League’s Central Division Championship, opened the regular season Nov. 27, and are currently 2-0. The team’s first home game is Thursday, Nov. 3 against Fort Wayne.
Coach Nick Nurse says his squad is still gelling, but will be ready to play.
“We’re looking good so far,” Nurse said. “The team has a great work ethic and from a coaching standpoint, I think we can score a lot of points.”
Nurse also believes Barron will play a large role in the team’s success.
“He brings a lot of experience and energy to the team,” he said. “When you have a guy that’s been around awhile, people may believe he’s not really into the team, but that’s not the case with Earl. He’s has a high basketball IQ and is coachable. Plus, he can shoot the ball.”
Fellow center Darryl Watkins also agrees that Barron’s talent should help the team.
“He’s a big man that can shoot from anywhere,” said Watkins, who played at the University of Syracuse and made the Cleveland Cavaliers’ training camp this fall. “Earl is a high-percentage shooter that spreads the floors. He’s going to give defenses a hard time.”
With just a few days until the Iowa Energy’s opening home game, Barron says the team is still a work in progress.
“Camp wasn’t long ago, so we’re getting to know each other and our tendencies on the court,” Barron said. “This isn’t an easy league — the guys can score and play. We have to play hard right from the tip. The only ones that can stop us are ourselves.” CV
Caption: Center Earl Barron is an inside-outside threat to opposing teams in the NBDL. Photo by Matt Miller