Matt Barnes spent 13 seasons in the NBA, and perhaps his most recognizable moment he was on the wrong end of.
We’ve all seen the legendary video. Barnes, then with the Orlando Magic, was getting heated with Kobe Bryant during a March 2010 game against the Lakers. At one point, Barnes was getting ready to inbound the ball from the baseline with Bryant standing right in front of him, and he quickly uncorked an emphatic ball fake in Bryant’s face.
The Lakers icon didn’t even flinch in one of the most weird, yet incredible, videos.
It’s a video that will never get old, and Barnes told his side of the play during an appearance this week on JJ Redick’s “The Old Man and the Three.”
“JJ, I put that s--t right in his face, you know me,” Barnes said. “I don’t even know how it happened, too, to be honest with you. It wasn’t like I’m going to stick the ball in his face, literally my arms did it themselves, it was crazy. I remember, it was a back-pick for Vince (Carter) to come around for a backdoor pass and someone else, I think Rashard (Lewis), was supposed to pop out to shoot. It wasn’t premeditated or nothing, it was weird because I did see that angle two or three years ago when it looked like it went off to the side, no no, that s--t went right in his face.”
The craziest part of it all happened a couple months later, though.
Barnes was a free agent that offseason, and he had a big offer from the Toronto Raptors. He also was being courted by the Miami Heat, who were hinting to him that LeBron James could be coming.
Then, Bryant came calling.
“Out of the blue I get a call from Kobe, from a number I don’t have saved, and I couldn't believe it was him, first of all. He was like what are you doing, I was just like, ‘I thought I’m coming back to Orlando, it’s not happening, I’m actually talking to D-Wade and Pat Riley about going to Miami.’ He was like, ‘Well, s--t, do you want to be a Laker?’ I grew up in California, watching Magic Johnson, so I was like ‘Hell f-----g yeah’ and four or five days I was a Laker. …
“It was always kind of a mutual respect, and it almost boiled over in that Orlando situation where we almost fought, but that situation had him come recruit me and brought me to the Lakers.”
Barnes would go on to spend two seasons with the Lakers before joining the Clippers immediately after for three years.