The two years Matt Barnes spent with the Los Angeles Lakers were part of the more disappointing times in franchise history. The first saw the Lakers fail to complete their second three-peat with Kobe Bryant, and Barnes’ second season was a bit of a ‘Dwightmare.’
Still Barnes, clearly enjoyed his time in the city of Los Angeles, staying local to play the next three season with the Clippers.
And while the most memorable moment in Barnes’ and Bryant’s history is definitely when the latter didn’t even flinch when Barnes pump-faked a ball in his face from point-blank range, the two apparently got along really well while they were teammates.
The respect Barnes had and still has for Bryant was on full display during his appearance on the “Unfiltered” podcast, when Barnes recalled being teammates with the five-time champion:
“Amazing. Really cool, man. Especially because the way it came about. It started back at UCLA when he would come and work out and play. I remember thinking, ‘Damn, he’s only a year-and-a-half older than me? I’m going to have to be able to guard him.’ When I’m at UCLA I’m thinking that. I remember the one year he broke his right hand, so he was up at UCLA doing all left-handed workouts. That was the year he came back shooting left-handed all the time. He was doing his whole workout left-handed and I’m like, ‘This dude is a [expletive] monster.’”
Bryant was still a dominant force during Barnes’ time playing alongside him, fully in the throes of the back-end of his prime.
And while Barnes never was quite the Bryant-stopper he hoped he could be (no one was), he did play some role in keeping Bryant sharp, guarding him in practice and training camp during his time in Los Angeles.
Barnes might not have gotten the ring he was chasing, but he’ll always be able to tell stories like this about the player he grew up so impressed with.