The .500 or bust beard by Kings forward Harrison Barnes was never supposed to last until mid-August. When Barnes made the pledge to not shave until his team got back to level ground, the Kings were 12-14, with three winnable games in front of them.
It seemed simple enough. Go into Charlotte and get a win, battle a tough Indiana team and then finish off a three-game road trip with a stop in Memphis. Worst-case scenario, Barnes probably assumed Sacramento would come back home a game under .500 with a shot to get square at home.
“The intent was never that it would go this long,” Barnes told NBC Sports California last week. “I was thinking three or four games, max.”
That was mid-December. His challenge hit a snag when the Kings dropped all three games on the road. It spiraled out of control when they failed to get a win in their next five games and the team fell to 12-22 on the season.
The Kings battled back after the All-Star break and were on their way back to respectability when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down. True to his word, Barnes let his beard grow out, or sideways, or wherever it decided to pop up.
With the season over, Barnes is off the hook. In a stroke of genius, the 28-year-old partnered with Schick Hydro and now he’s back to his old self, sporting a smooth shave and his customary goatee.
As one of the leaders on the Kings, Barnes felt it was important to stick to the pledge, regardless of how long his facial hair grew.
“It was something that I wanted to do because I do have faith in our squad and I wanted the guys to know that anything is possible in this league and we can achieve anything we want. And I’m going to be a man by my word and stick by this.”
The season didn’t end up how the Kings hoped, but at least Barnes found a nice new sponsor to work with. One of the good guys in the league, he is due to have a little good fortune.
Barnes, along with his wife Brittany, donated $200,000 towards non-profits that were created by the families of victims of police brutality and gun violence. He’s found a voice during an important time in our history as the fight for equality has reached a fever pitch.
“I find that the more I’m able to learn, the more I’m able to witness and talk with people -- talk with families and things like that, I’m able to have more confidence in terms of speaking out, knowing that there is a place for me to use my platform and to shed light on injustices and bring awareness to different things,” Barnes said. “There’s also a period of time when it’s important to uplift and support and stand behind those who are actually in the field doing work.”
We’ll have more of the Barnes conversation on Wednesday’s edition of the Purple Talk podcast. For now, we know he’s clean-shaven and engaged in making the community around him better.