Matt Barnes Explains

If you take pride in being a NBA bad boy as Matt Barnes obviously does, then you have to accept the social media consequences when things blow up. John Wooden always pointed out the difference between reputation and character. Your reputation is who the world thinks you are. Your character is who you really are. With Barnes though, it is often hard to make a clear distinction.

Matt Barnes has played for 10 teams in 13 years; he is a solid defender and a timely three point shooter whose brain sometimes is fried in the most emotional moments. In backrooms, there is the over-under bet of how long it will be before Matt Barnes kills someone on the court. His emotions often run the other side of crazy. His on court anger and frustration leads him to impulsivity and he racks up technical fouls. During last year’s playoffs, he cursed out James Harden’s momma, so to say he’s passionate to the extreme is also to say he can be a bit reckless.

So was that it?

Is that the reason he drove like a maniac from Santa Barbara- and anyone who has made that drive on the 101 knows part of the drive is scenic and part of it is highway drudgery. Allegedly, Barnes was hellbent on getting to his estranged wife’s house, the same wife he was arrested for assaulting in 2010, just so he could kick Derrick Fisher’s ass.

It’s a day later and this story has gone the viral gossip route with a lot of laughter and WTF and head shaking. There is the debate about Derrick Fisher breaking the man code. Barnes and Fisher were teammates with the Lakers so Fisher owed him some loyalty, especially since Barnes and Gloria Govan aren’t even divorced, and for that matter, neither is Fisher. There is the debate about Barnes as a spousal abuser according to the court, though both Govan and Barnes said at the time it was a misunderstanding. But Barnes using violence to settle some beef with Fisher dating his wife fits in with his reputation.

Today he cleared up some of the details. No, he didn’t drive from Santa Barbara all enraged in an O.J. moment. He was 15 minutes away. Yes, he was worried about his kids, that is what inspired his late night visit but it doesn’t really explain the here and the why: why then did he use Fisher’s face as a punching bag. The kids weren’t responsible for that. But to Barnes credit, the meat and potatoes about what went down he is keeping quiet. Fisher didn’t press charges and so Barnes also needs to keep his mouth shut so it will go away. But, it’s the kind of gossip in which the story gets more exaggerated the more it’s repeated.

Barnes side of things:

“I can’t believe people think I was driving 95 miles and listening to Tupac to go beat somebody up. No. I live 15 minutes away and I was going over to check on my kids because they seeemed uncomfortable. That was my main reason for going over there.”

The reason it’s easy to assume Barnes on the 101 with foam coming out his mouth and bloodthirsty eyes is because he has created an on-court persona that feels real. For NBA fans, Barnes reputation is that of a man who forgets about time and place when his emotions get revved all the way up. He goes from 0 to 100 in about three seconds flat. That isn’t fake. It’s real talk. But not necessarily a good way to make a first impression with your new team, the Memphis Grizzlies. Or, to keep you private life off of social media.

photo via llananba