Thursday, October 8, 2015

Matt Barnes talks to media about reported Derek Fisher incident

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 12:44 PM

click to enlarge KEVIN LIPE
  • Kevin Lipe

Matt Barnes and Dave Joerger talked to the media today after shootaround about the reported incident in which Barnes allegedly assaulted Knicks coach Derek Fisher over his relationship with Barnes' ex-wife, and... while nothing about any of this incident has been proven yet, let's just be real: it wasn't the best.

Barnes, for his part, said that it was "a personal matter" and that his focus is on basketball. He did say that he and Fisher "were good friends at one point," but he left it at that, neither confirming nor denying the reports, but just moving on. You can see in this video on the CA site that the media there tried to get Barnes to say more about it, but Barnes has been in the league long enough to know not to take the bait.

Dave Joerger's response was the one I could have done without. According to Rob Fischer:

I have several problems with this response. If Barnes actually did what he's reported to have done, you probably shouldn't support him 1000% unless you're supporting the anger management counseling he (1) needs and (2) will probably be ordered to go to by the team or the league.

Barnes has a history of these sorts of incidents, so no one was surprised by this latest one—to the point that I along with the rest of Basketball Twitter was cracking jokes about it, before realizing this morning that it's really not all that funny. But I really wish Joerger had just said "it's a personal matter" and not added the part about how the whole team supports and loves him, because support in this context is pretty ambiguous, and Barnes' alleged actions are entirely unsupportable. Sound bites don't work that way. Twitter is not about context. Joerger could've said "I support him a thousand percent and I know all of the team does even though if he actually did this stuff that's just not acceptable behavior," but that doesn't exactly fit in a tweet.

The only way this whole thing is kosher is if there's some bit of extenuating circumstance that we're not privy to yet. I'm having a hard time imagining what that would be.

Sidebar: Don't give me the "Derek Fisher shouldn't have been dating Matt Barnes' estranged wife" line. Guess what? People (even women!) are allowed to date whoever they want. The number of Twitter comments about how Fisher should've known better isn't surprising, but that doesn't make them any less stupid, or misogynist. Matt Barnes doesn't get to decide who his ex-wife can date. He can be mad about her decisions if he wants, but guess what: that doesn't mean he gets to punch people.

Other Sidebar: Derek Fisher is one of my least favorite NBA players of all time. I hate that this situation has made me have to defend Derek Fisher.
So... we'll see. With any luck the whole thing blows over and months from now we forget this whole ugly story. We've forgotten them before—don't Google "Zach Randolph pool cue" if you want to keep forgetting—but that doesn't mean that (1) Barnes has a history of these kinds of incidents and while we celebrate his willingness to fight on the court as "Memphis" there is substantial off-court baggage associated with that willingness or that (2) the best PR approach for the Grizzlies and any/all of their players and personnel would be to just say "it's a personal matter" and move on, rather than stand too strongly behind a guy who, honestly, is just plain old enough to know better than to pull this kind of crap.

Support him, sure. But maybe support him by letting him face some consequences if he's found to have actually done what's being alleged here—allegedly Barnes texted a friend he "kicked [Fisher's] ass from the back yard to the front room, and spit in [his estranged wife's] face." I was excited about the possibility of the Matt Barnes era on the Grizzlies. Instead, I have to think about watching a dude who may—if these reports are true—is willing to spit in his ex-wife's face for dating a man who he was friends with. It's a thought that I don't love to death.

Update, 2:23PM

Barnes talked to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN and shared his side of the story about the whole thing:

So, from Barnes' telling, it's certainly less insane of a situation than it initially sounded, and Derek Fisher sounds like a real great guy (but we already knew he was Derek Fisher and thus insufferable)... but none of it is a justification for assaulting Fisher. At the end of the day, this is an ugly domestic incident and not any sort of justified, deserved beatdown. Hearing Barnes' side of the story just makes it more realistic, less crazy, and more depressing.

  • Matt Barnes drove 95 miles to 'beat the s—t' out of Derek Fisher, Ian Mohr, New York Post
  • Grizzlies' Matt Barnes addresses reported altercation with Derek Fisher, Ron Tillery, Commercial Appeal

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