LA Clippers veteran forward Matt Barnes has basically no filter when he speaks, as he once again proves in an excellent SI profile.
Barnes, a former Laker, had a few run-ins with Kobe Bryant before they became teammates and gained respect for one another—“Anyone crazy enough to mess with me is crazy enough to play with me,” Bryant famously explained.
Barnes says that high-profile free agents have continuously turned down the Lakers the last few seasons because of poor management by the front-office, not because they don’t want to play alongside Kobe (a narrative that had recently gained some traction.)
”The reason people don’t want to go to the Lakers is because of management,” Barnes says. “Kobe can be the scapegoat all they want but if you play hard, Kobe likes you. And if you bulls— around, he doesn’t. It’s plain and simple. He’s not a vocal leader. He just expects you to play as hard as you can every minute on the court, like he does.”
Barnes has first-hand experience with Bryant’s treatment of free agents. When he entered the market back in 2010, Barnes turned down a lucrative deal and decided instead to play with Bryant, a man with whom he shared several run-ins, including an incident where Barnes pretended to throw the ball at Bryant’s face and the longtime Laker didn’t even flinch.
“You want to be a Laker?” Bryant asked Barnes. “Hell yeah!” Barnes answered. […] Barnes soon learned what type of teammate he inherited on the plane ride to a 2010 preseason game. Barnes saw Bryant feverishly writing diagrams on a scrap of paper and asked what he was doing. “I’m drawing our offensive plays and where I’ll get double-teamed in the triangle,” he told Barnes. “That way I can figure out where you guys are going to be open.”