Let’s start with news—if you’re one of the many Warriors fans mourning the impending retirement of broadcaster Jim Barnett, who has been calling Golden State games for 29 years, take heart.

Barnett will be back in the team’s broadcast mix next year in some fashion. The team is still looking for a new full-time, long-term analyst, but Barnett will do some home television games and some radio alongside Tim Roye next season.

WARRIORS: Erman let go | NBA coaching contracts | Malone: Relationship with Jackson fine

Barnett will only be sort-of retired, and next season, he will celebrate his 30th year behind the team’s microphone.

On a visit to Barnett’s home in Orinda on Wednesday, the status of his impending retirement was Issue No. 1. However, with nothing officially agreed upon, Barnett could not confirm, deny or comment on what he will be up to with the Warriors next year.

But Barnett could partake in one of his top pastimes: storytelling.

Both on the air and in person, Barnett has a unique ability to bring experiences and people—from Red Auerbach to Elvin Hayes to Pat Riley—from his nine-year playing career to life, and over the course of a couple of hours at the Cooperage American Grille in Lafayette, California, he did just that.

So get yourself a coffee, have a seat and prepare to be entertained by …

… The Red Auerbach story …

Barnett had his first encounter with legendary Celtics coach and executive Red Auerbach after he was drafted by the Celtics out of Oregon, in 1966. Barnett was only 21 at the time, and Auerbach had just retired as a coach to focus solely on running the team.

CELTICS: Rare photos of Bill Russell 

Barnett: “After I got drafted, I met with Auerbach, to talk about my contract. The whole time, I had told myself I would stand firm, I wanted $15,000 and I would not take no for an answer. You know, I had really talked myself up in my head.

“So I walk into Red’s office, and he is there, he has the cigar and all. He barely looks at me. And he tells me he will read me a letter, from an attorney acting as the agent for Leon Clark, the Celtics’ second-round pick. He gets to the part where the agent is asking for a two-year contract for $22,000. Then he looked up at me and said, ‘You know what I think about this?’

“I shook my head. I was confused and nervous. He didn’t flinch, he ripped the letter right in half. I must have looked like I saw a ghost. So Red said, ‘How does $12,000 sound?’ And I just nodded. I’d have said yes to anything. It was Red Auerbach, you know?”

… The 1967 playoffs story …

In Barnett’s rookie year in Boston, the Celtics were accustomed to winning, having earned eight straight championships. But they were also transitioning from Auerbach to player-coach Bill Russell, who was 32 at the time. Not only did Boston not win a championship, but they failed to reach the Finals.

Barnett: “We lost to Philadelphia in the East Finals. We lost the first game, and we were trailing in the second game, and we got desperate, because they put me into the second game at the Boston Garden.  I was scared to death. It was a Sunday, on national television. I played long enough to take nine shots. I was 2-for-9.

“I was playing good defense, though, and we had come back to get the score to 103-102. I stole the ball from Wali Jones on an inbounds pass and I had it, but was scared. I was wide open, but I couldn’t take the shot. I threw it over to K.C. Jones in the corner, and I could see he was mad. K.C. wasn’t a scorer, he hardly ever shot. He whipped the ball back to me, and said, ‘Shoot the damn ball.’

“So I shot. It hit the back of the rim, the front, the back again, the side, then trickled out. We would have had the lead. We lost, 107-102, and we lost the series in five games.

“Philadelphia really killed us in the final game, scored 140 points. It was a very quiet locker room. It was pretty grim. They took it like men, nobody was angry or crying. But they were upset—it was a rude awakening. It was tough.”

… The 1967 expansion draft story …

Barnett’s tenure with the Celtics was short-lived. After a year in Boston, he was selected as an expansion draft pick by San Diego, which was joining the league along with Seattle.

Barnett: “Auerbach helped me out a lot, he got me into the National Guard that year so that I would not have to go off to Vietnam. After my rookie season, I was there at Fort Dix, New Jersey, for 120 days. But that was when the expansion draft was happening, and I was on the Army base when I read in the paper that the Rockets had chosen me. That’s how I found out I was in the expansion draft, I read it.

“I got a phone call a few days later, and it was Jack McMahon, coach of the Rockets. It turned out, he took me with the third pick in the expansion draft, but I didn’t know that. The paper didn’t list the order, but it went Toby Kimball first, then the Sonics took Walt Hazzard, then I went to San Diego. I was basically the second player in franchise history.

“That gave me some leverage. But I didn’t know it, I was on an Army base. I could have asked for a lot in my contract. Jack put out his number, and I should have said, $15,000, but I didn’t, I said, $14,500. Jack said, ‘How about 14?’ And I said, ‘Fine.’

“That’s how it went, really, the whole conversation was like that, less than a minute. Jack told me later, ‘You were the easiest player I ever negotiated with.’ I probably should have been a little tougher. But I was on an Army base.”

… The Pat Riley story …

NBA fans universally know Pat Riley now, of course. But if it had not been for Barnett, both in San Diego and then in Portland, Riley might never have landed with the Lakers and gone on to be a kingpin in L.A., New York and Miami.

MORE: Riley, Spoelstra, Jackson—it's complicated

Barnett: “Riley was the first college pick for the Rockets, they took him seventh in that (1967) draft, out of Kentucky. He came in, and we did not say one word to each other. We really did not like each other. He played my position. That’s how it was. I like Pat now, but at the time, we did not have guaranteed contracts, he was after my job. I was friends with the big guys, like Dave Gambee and Toby Kimball. But guards were not friends with other guards. In practice, Pat and I, we really went at each other.

“Strangely enough, when the league expanded to Portland, Pat Riley was one of the players they took. And the Blazers made a trade for me, they got me from the Rockets. So we were on the same team again, but in training camp, Portland had me, they had Rick Adelman. They put Riley on waivers, he was the last player cut in camp. They kept two players—Ronnie Knight and Walt Gilmore—who only played one year in the NBA, ahead of Riley.

“So the Lakers got Riley on waivers for $1,000. Then Riley goes and plays the next five or six years in L.A. and becomes the head coach and, well, everyone knows what happened from there.”

… The Elvin Hayes story, Part I …

As talented as he was—he averaged 21.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in 16 seasons—Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes was known as a difficult guy to get along with during his NBA career, though he matured as his career went on. “Elvin really did come a long way over time,” Barnett said, “but he could be difficult in his early years.”

MORE: Hayes added to 2013 Hall of Fame

Barnett has an example, from a day in which Hayes and Abdul-Jabbar would reprise their roles from the Game of the Century, the Houston-UCLA collegiate matchup that captured the sporting world’s attention in 1968.

Barnett: “We were in Milwaukee, and it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s rookie year, and those two were going to be facing off. The game was on a Sunday, and it was nationally televised and getting a lot of attention.

“Earlier, Elvin and I had gotten into an argument, we got a little heated, and he was not happy. I said some things I shouldn’t have, and he started chasing me around the locker room. I was quicker than he was, though, and he could not catch me. So, finally, about 30 minutes before the game, Elvin is sitting in front of his locker, in street clothes.

“Jack McMahon comes in and says, ‘Elvin, get in your uniform.’ Elvin points to me and says, ‘If that man play, I don’t play.’ I am just trying to ignore it, but McMahon comes to me and says, ‘Jim, step outside, let me talk to you.’

“We get out of the locker room, Jack says, ‘You like playing in San Diego, right? You told me you’d take a pay cut just to stay, didn’t you?’ I said yes, yes of course.

“Jack says, ‘All right, , if I go to ownership and tell them that we have a problem between Barnett and Elvin Hayes, what do you think they’ll tell me to do? Who would they tell me to trade?’

“I thought about that for about a minute. Then I went back in and apologized to Elvin. He put on his uniform and played.”

… The Elvin Hayes story, Part II …

In their third season, McMahon’s Rockets were struggling. That, coupled with Hayes’ disapproval, spelled doom for McMahon, but gave a wake-up call to Hayes when the Rockets hired Alex Hannum, a Hall of Fame coach known for challenging Wilt Chamberlain to a fight when he was in Philadelphia.

Barnett: “Elvin had a game where the first three plays were all called for him, and he let passes slip right through his hands for turnovers. It was bad. Jack always called the first play for Elvin. So Jack called timeout and said to Elvin, ‘If you can’t catch the ball, I am putting you on the bench.’

“And right there, Elvin says, ‘F--- you, McMahon. I’ll catch ball. But you be gone soon.’ Sure enough, a few days later, McMahon got fired and they brought in Alex Hannum.

“Now, the thing about Elvin, he was naïve. The Rockets fired McMahon and hired Hannum—he was a former Marine and he ran things like a drill sergeant. Soon after Hannum took over, we are doing the three-man weave drill, and we’re doing it and doing it and doing it, for a really long time. Alex is just there, smiling with his arms folded. Finally, one of the guys says, ‘Alex, can we stop this drill?’ And Alex says, ‘We will stop it when Elvin stops jogging and starts running.’

“Elvin heard that and he didn’t care. He kept jogging. Finally, Alex tells all of us to leave the floor for a few minutes, except Elvin. We did,

and we come back in after, and we go back into the three-man weave drill, and all the sudden, Elvin is flying around at full speed, passing, dunking. We were all amazed.

“Stu Lantz was Elvin’s roommate at the time, and he told us later what happened. Alex had grabbed Elvin by the jersey and shoved him against a wall, and really laid into him, said he’d fight him. Alex was a big guy, and intimidating. So when we went back in, Elvin was a little transformed.”

… The intro to broadcasting story …

Barnett did not intend to get into broadcasting after his playing career. He knew he did not want to coach but, despite a successful business career, he did not want to give up on basketball altogether. That led him to broadcasting—and nearly led him to the seat now occupied by Walt Frazier of the Knicks.

Barnett: “Originally, it started because Bill Russell was supposed to call a playoff game in 1976, Suns and Warriors. But Russell had been stranded in Seattle because of fog. They called me, I figured why not? They liked me, and the next year, HBO—it was a new network at that time—had me do the first-round series with Dick Stockton, Portland and Chicago. I did the games in Portland.

“I did not know that Mike Burke, the head of Madison Square Garden, was watching. He liked me, and I had been playing for the Knicks before I finished up the year in 1977 with Philadelphia.

“So Mike told me to come up and talk to him after the season was over, and he said he wanted to give me the job, doing color commentary. I thought, wow. I went back to California and considered it for a few weeks. But they were not offering to pay much and I would have to move my family to New York. I decided I couldn’t do that.

“I called Mike back and told him, ‘Mike, thank you, but I think what I want to be is a regular, rich businessman.’ Mike laughed and said, ‘That’s probably a good decision.’ The job eventually went to Butch Beard, my roommate when I was with the Knicks, and he wound up going from there into coaching. I did get into sales.

“But obviously, I got into broadcasting, too.”