“Violence is never the answer, but sometimes it is.” Matt Barnes, yesterday.
If Matt Barnes was bitterly livid when Derek Fisher’s call to the Redondo Beach Police Department initiated an investigation which found its way into the NBA offices, then Barnes must be equally disgusted with himself. A few days ago, he said “I know I have to keep my mouth shut.” But that isn’t quite the Matt Barnes way when he is the center of attention. Unprovoked, he laid out a theory on violence Kiki VanDeWeghe, NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, objected to. VanDeWeghe fined him $35,000. (Barnes roughly makes $43,000 per game).
“Matt Barnes comments condoning violence do not reflect who we are as a league or the character of our players. His words are unacceptable and entirely inconsistent with the core principles of their game and the NBA” (Kiki VanDeWeghe)
In October, the news spread that Barnes was caught up in a love triangle with his former teammate and now former friend, Knicks coach Derek Fisher, and Barnes estranged wife. A confrontation, a physical fist to face thing ensued. Barnes, the tough guy, considered it men being men. Keep it quiet. But Fisher filed a report. Barnes was suspended and lost pay ($86,000).
The first time Barnes and Fisher would be in the same building was last night when the Knicks rolled into Memphis. Barnes had already said he and Fisher don’t speak because, “he doesn’t talk to snakes.” That only got it started.
“Every man who looks at the situation knows what’s right and wrong. Violence is never the answer, but sometimes it is.”
The situation: his former friend making a play for his estranged wife, man-code, violation. But the back end of Barnes rather stupid (and illogical) statement is what cost Barnes cash.
The last thing the NBA wants to let slide is one of their players, albeit, a marginal-in-his-last-years-player, hinting at violent retaliation or violence as a way to solve problems. Image is an Adam Silver obsession; he is selling the league and its labor force to billionaires who want in and he’s selling it to the mostly white season ticket holders who are shelling out a hella amount of cash to be part of the experience. Matt Barnes going rouge crossed the line even if it just amounted to rhetoric.
Like a lot of Matt Barnes things much of what comes out his mouth is contradictory. He admitted that doing anything further to Fisher was unnecessary. “He already took one L”, referring to his punches to Fisher’s face. Arrogant and smug, he took pleasure reminding everyone he won round one. But two days earlier he said, “When I’m retired, him and I will cross paths again.”
It only made his violent rhetoric more powerful. What exactly is going to happen when Barnes and Fisher cross paths again? Barnes has admitted that sometimes violence is the answer, so the options are endless.
The NBA doesn’t want this to go further than it already has. Barnes is far away from the spotlight in Memphis. If the Grizzlies make the playoffs, it will be one and done. So in a lot of ways Barnes is in the shadows. He’s a secondary story, a player nearly out the league.
It’s been a decade since Barnes shot 40% from the field but he is doing so now. Ironically, he was with the Knicks in the 2005-06 season and his bad shooting is part of the reason why the Knicks waived him. A second round pick in 2002, Barnes has lasted in the league because of his defensive energy and perimeter shooting. At 35 years old, he is good for 9 points a game and a lot of soundbites.
Some of the things he says though cost Matt Barnes a lot of money.
photo via llananba