Issue 140: Cool Cats: A Man Who Has Punched, Smoked, and Buzzer-Beatered

It’s been a hot minute since the last installment of Cool Cats, where we explore the career of a player that seems like a fun person off the court, too.

Today, that player is Matt Barnes, a well-traveled forward who’s gotten up to some pretty intriguing things since retiring.

Let’s hop to it!

So. Many. Teams.

There are a lot of NBA teams in California: the Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, and Kings.

Matt Barnes is the only player in league history to ever take the court as a member of each of those teams, and won a championship in the final season of his career as a member of the Warriors.

He also played 14 seasons but never spent more than three years on the same team. That means he RACKED UP the frequent flyer miles. Pretty cool.

Weeding out the bad stuff

Speaking of travel, as I type this, I’ve been in San Francisco for about 24 hours. Already, I’ve had people make recommendations on where to get weed (including one person I had spoken maybe six words to) and have passed by a dispensary. It’s as common an occurrence here as…well, Common is at award shows.

If you’re a fan of smoking marijuana, then you’ll be a fan of Matt Barnes, too.

His dad used to grow marijuana, which means Barnes started smoking when he was only 14. He said in a 2018 interview with Bleacher Report that he’d “steal it, like, fresh off the plant” and admitted that he was “medicated” in all of his best games.

Beefs with other NBA folks

Barnes also had scuffles with a few NBA players and coaches over the years.

He explained that Mo Cheeks (his former coach) disrespected him when he was in Philadelphia; Cheeks asked Barnes why he was shooting after practice since he wasn’t going to get to play on the 76ers and thus, wouldn’t get to shoot those shots in games.

Barnes wanted to go at Cheeks, but instead, he let his game speak. When Barnes ended up on the Warriors a short while later, he scored 34 points in the team’s first game against the Sixers and had something to say to Cheeks every time down the court. (Hint: it wasn’t as polite as “thank you”).

Later, when Barnes was with the Magic, he got into it with Kobe Bryant during a game. The chippiness culminated with Barnes pretending to throw a ball at Bryant’s face on an inbounds pass.

Bryant didn’t flinch. Meanwhile, I would have cowered and sprinted to the safety of the press table.

Oh yes, there was also the time Barnes drove 95 miles to confront and beat up Derek Fisher, who used to be his teammate but was at the time the head coach of the New York Knicks.

Fisher was dating Barnes’ estranged wife, and Barnes didn’t like the idea of another man – especially a former teammate – being around his kids. And thus, he went up to take care of things mano a mano.

The pair’s beef is over, but that made for some pretty entertaining theater.

Also entertaining: Barnes’ podcast with fellow wacky fella—and I mean that in the best way—Stephen Jackson. It’s called All The Smoke and features delightful and ridiculous conversations with guests (including many current and former ballers), some of whom may or may not be medicated while chatting.

Earlier this year, Barnes had a back and forth with Kwame Brown, who felt Barnes, Jackson, and guest Gilbert Arenas disrespected him on the podcast.

Barnes’ retort was fantastic: “If you want to be mad at anyone, be mad at MJ for believing you and picking you No. 1.”

With one-liners like that, no wonder Barnes is exploring a career in politics. He’s considering running for mayor of Sacramento.

I just hope his tenure goes better than the canceled-too-soon show The Mayor. Love me some Yvette Nicole Brown!

Shooting buzzer-beaters, but, like…WAY too early

Let’s wrap up with one of my favorite buzzer-beaters (that isn’t technically a buzzer-beater): while with the Memphis Grizzlies, Barnes found himself with the ball and mere seconds left on the clock.

He dribbled the ball to half court and launched a runner. It splashed through the hoop…with 1.1 seconds remaining.

Barnes shot with so much time remaining that Detroit had one final play to run. They didn’t score, thankfully, preserving the win for Memphis.

I did this once during a game in middle school. Of course, in my situation, it was the end of the third quarter, not the game. Also, we were already winning by 25 or so points. And we played with a running clock, so everyone just stared in awe as the final seconds of the quarter ticked off and the buzzer blared.

The point is, it’s basically the same thing Barnes did, meaning I could have thrived in the NBA. Enjoy the highlight below or right here.