Tough Enough: Matt Barnes and the Diminishing ‘Soft’ Label

Although he had enjoyed collegiate success, Barnes would struggle his first couple of years in the NBA to the point where he considered trying out for the National Football League (he was a high school All-American Honoree as a receiver while at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California). It was not until he landed with the Golden State Warriors that he became an efficient player under the guidance of Don Nelson. He was part of the Warriors team, along with fellow Bruin Baron Davis, which beat the number one seed Dallas Mavericks in the opening round of the 2007 NBA playoffs. Barnes averaged 11.1 points and 5.7 rebounds a game in the 2007 postseason.

Nov 2, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes (33) dunks the ball as Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) defends at the Staples Center. Photo via Newscom

Matt Barnes is here and now, joining the two time defending champions in pursuit of a third straight championship. Kobe put it perfectly, “Anyone crazy enough to mess with me is crazy enough to play with me”. With the Miami Heat forming a super power in South Beach, the Celtics adding more weapons of their own including the “Big Shamrock”; adding another tough perimeter defender who can hit beyond the arc vastly improves the Lakers bench.

If there is one thing we could learn from history, it is that it tends to repeat itself. In this case, that is exactly what happened. Two summers ago, the Lakers signed Ron Artest even though he and now teammate Kobe Bryant had their own issues during the Lakers and Rockets Western Conference Semi-Finals matchup in 2009. Nevertheless, they put their differences aside and joined forces. We all know what happened next; a second NBA title that was aided by Artest’s 20 points in Game 7 against that eerie green team from Boston.

The Lakers have done it again by signing another Kobe Bryant foe, adding Matt Barnes to the roster, and by doing so improving the bench and chances for a three-peat. Not only is he an athletic player who could play the shooting guard or small forward position, its his toughness and defense that are his best assets and are going to fit in the Lakers rotation.

Although it is still very early in the season, Lakers Nation should be very excited to have a player like Matt Barnes coming off the bench. The Lakers have arguably the toughest core of perimeter defenders in the league and no one should be questioning their toughness anymore.

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