I had never intended for this site to become the "Rhode Island sports blog", but the hits just keep coming. Today's Boston Herald is reporting that Marvin "Bad News" Barnes, former American Basketball Association great, former Boston Celtic, former Providence College All-American and native (and still current) resident of Providence, actually snorted cocaine during games while sitting on the bench for the Celtics during the 1978-1979 season.
Former Providence College teammate and former NBA rookie of the year, North Providence native Ernie DiGrigorio expressed his skepticism, saying: "I don't believe he did cocaine on the bench. I love Marvin, but I think he's just saying that. I believe a lot of the things that have happened to him that are documented - the time in prison, living on the street, all the drug rehabs. But I find that one hard to believe."
Marvin begs to differ, "Yeah, I was doing it on the bench. I was playing for the Celtics, and I was sitting next to Nate Archibald and somebody else, and I was snorting cocaine right there on the bench while the game was going on. They all moved away from me. I had it under a towel. I guess I don't need to say that my career didn't last much longer after that."
The Herald talked to the always quotable Celtics legend (and current Celtics radio man) Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell, then a teammate of Marvin Barnes. Cedric did not hesitate to talk about Marvin's gifts, his demons, and his (Maxwell's) own stunning naivete. In his own words:
“Marvin was a good guy, and he played well the first 15 or 20 games of the season. He was on time for everything and he was great. Then the worst thing in the world happened. We had a game in St. Louis, his old stomping grounds. I had the room right beside Marvin, and when I came back from the game the music was blaring and it stayed that way until the wake-up call the next morning. That was it. Marvin was never the same.
Bad News Barnes is clean today, which is wonderful. Celtics fans wistfully recall the reminiscences of Celtic legend Tommy Heinsohn saying that Marvin Barnes could have been one of the greatest of all time, and saying that he had never seen anyone squander such amazing abilities (at least, that is, until Roy Tarpley and Derrick Coleman came onto the scene).
Here at the Rhode Islander, we've got nothing but love for Marvin. Tell it like it was, big man.