"When I moved to Dallas,'' Harrison Barnes writes in this expansive must-read piece in The Players Tribune. "I had two big goals. The first, of course, had to do with basketball. I came here to work hard and earn the respect of the fans. The second goal was more personal. I wanted to put down roots in Dallas. That was one of the upsides of signing a four-year deal.''
Barnes' work here on his move to the Dallas Mavericks and his move to Dallas itself -- "a city in mourning,'' he writes -- is a 2,000-word confirmation of what we thought we knew. We've heard Dirk Nowitzki say that Barnes is a true gym rat. We've heard coach Rick Carlisle discuss HB's status as an iron man who has played every game this year with his new team, including the preseason, due to his work ethic and commitment.
But now we know more, as Barnes details his engagement Dallas community leaders at a dinner not long after he arrived in town ... coinciding, tragically, with the police shootings in our city.
"Soon we moved on to new subjects — public education, health care, poverty and more. The dinner and the conversation went on for more than 90 minutes. I can truly say that I haven’t been involved in a discussion as honest and personal in a long time. There was no shortage of disagreement about the fundamental social and political issues facing Dallas. But one thing was crystal clear: Everyone there cared deeply about this city.''
The piece offers first-hand stories of interactions with new friends like Emmitt Smith, Michael Finley and Chief David O. Brown. And it offers something else: As fans of the Mavs and as members of the community, we want health and hope, promise and unity. Harrison Barnes' performance as a basketball player this year offers so much of that ... and his efforts behind the scenes offer the same.