Matt Barnes: The Unspoken Star Of The Clippers


Apr 11, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee (5) loses the ball as Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes (22) falls into him during the third quarter at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Clippers won 94-86. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Barnes has always been renowned for his tough defensive attitude. It doesn’t just show in his performance, but in the way he curses at the top of his lungs, takes on guys half a foot taller than him, and through his never-ending competitiveness off the court. Despite all the ways he can impact a game, he’s not normally given much credit for the Clippers’ success.

More from Clipperholics

So if you want some insight into his outlook on the game, how he rates Chris Paul as a defender, and just how highly regarded he is by his teammates, keep reading.

He’s a perfect example of the player you want on your team, but everyone hates to play against. And in a recent interview with Sport Illustrated’s Chris Ballard, Matt Barnes opened up on numerous aspects of the game. From how much he hated Mo Cheeks to CP3’s “dog-ness”, the interview had a bit of everything.

Whilst talking about Barnes before he joined the Clippers, DeAndre Jordan said “When he was with the Lakers, I hated him. And I mean, hated him.” The tenacity of Barnes soon shone through when he switched teams in L.A. though, and Jordan quickly changed his opinion. He added to his statement that “Once he joined us, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is going to be great’… He’s all about team. All about family.”

“He doesn’t give you space. Your balance is your most important thing on your shot. You have to get your feet set to go and he’s always in your legs, in there bodying you up, cutting your angles off, bumping you a little bit.” Matt Barnes on Chris Paul’s defense.

The praise from Matt Barnes’ teammates didn’t end there.

Paul continued to emphasise Barnes’ selflessness and what a great teammate he is; admitting that, like Jordan, he also once hated him. J.J. Redick actually played with Barnes in Orlando back in 2010, and (per Chris Ballard) continued to state his belief that Matt Barnes is the best teammate he’s ever had.

When discussing Paul’s defensive talents, Barnes defined him as a “dog”. Which, in Barnes’ book, is a very select group of players. Consisting of Draymond Green, Kevin Garnett, Andrew Bogut, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul.

Barnes’ story on Paul (who was suffering with a knee injury and even limping) before a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, depicts exactly how hard he plays defense:

"Barnes said to the Clippers’ coaching staff “Let me guard [Russell] Westbrook and let Chris guard someone off the ball… so we can save him for the offensive end.”When Barnes told the plan to Paul the following day, Paul replied “F— that. I got him.”"

Surprise, surprise, Westbrook shot just 5 of 14 that day.

Chris Ballard’s piece for Sports Illustrated is definitely worth a read if you haven’t already, and its behind-the-scenes look into the role of Matt Barnes speaks volumes about how important he’s been to the Clippers. So even if it’s the main trio of Lob City who make all the highlights, you can be assured that Barnes is doing his job.

The level of grittiness that Barnes brings to the table is something that very few players have, and in the postseason, you want that in a teammate more than ever.

Next: Can the Clippers' recent success carry over into the playoffs?