Kobe Bryant has gotten into it with quite a few players over the years, and two of the guys the Black Mamba enraged ended up being his teammates.
One was Ron Artest – now Metta World Peace – and the other was Matt Barnes.
Kobe also wined and dined Raja Bell in the summer of 2010 – Bell was even rumored to have used the “Mamba Chopper” to get to the dinner – though the former Phoenix Suns player ultimately decided to sign with the Utah Jazz, which opened the door for Barnes.
For some Laker fans, it was kind of surprising that Barnes joined the purple and gold after his run ins with Bryant, the most famous being a Sunday afternoon game against the Orlando Magic.
Things got kind of heated between the two players, which resulted in Barnes faking an inbounds pass right into Bryant’s face.
Of course, Kobe being Kobe, he didn’t flinch.
Not one muscle was moved. Well, aside from the cocky smirk that Bryant flashed at Barnes.
Note: There is explicit lyrics in the video below.
However, this is the madness of Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba actually wants players like this on his team.
In a Sports Illustrated piece by Chris Ballard, Barnes revealed the message that Kobe gave his former foe when recruiting him during free agency.
“Anyone crazy enough to mess with me is crazy enough to play with me,” Kobe told Barnes.
That would explain why Bryant welcomed Artest to the Lakers in 2009 despite a heated playoff battle just months earlier.
The acquisition of the Queensbridge native resulted in yet another championship for the purple and gold the following June, though Barnes’ stint with the Lake Show wasn’t quite as successful.
In 2012, the Lakers decided to part ways with Barnes and declined to re-sign him.
Therefore, it should probably come as no surprise that he now blames the Lakers’ front office for the team’s current woes.
“The reason people don’t want to go to the Lakers is because of management,” Barnes told SI.com. “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.”
It should be pointed out that the same management who signed Barnes in 2010 – and won two championships prior to that – are still with the Lakers today.
Yes, Dr. Jerry Buss died in 2013 and he has left a huge void in the franchise that will never be filled, though the legendary owner had already taken a back seat and was letting Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss run the basketball side of things.
The only difference these days is that Dr. Buss doesn’t sign off on deals like he once did.
Therefore, it’s not all that surprising that Barnes, a player who was spurned by the franchise and now plays for their crosstown rival, is now dissing the Lakers’ front office.
But one person he won’t diss is Kobe Bryant, and that’s probably a smart move seeing as Barnes will likely match up with his longtime foe a few more times before the five-time NBA champion finally decides to call it a career.