Matt Barnes says the Clippers are the enemy now


For two years, no two teams reminded fans more of the lauded 90s NBA era than when the Clippers and Grizzlies took the floor. The result? Back-to-back playoff series filled with physical play, close games, and memorable moments — the Clippers won the 2011 series, beating the Grizzlies on their home floor in Game 7; the Grizzlies winning the 2012 series, beating the Clippers in four straight games after losing the first two.

Since then things have lightened up as they’ve faced other opponents in the 2013 and 2014 playoffs, but an off-season trade by Memphis gives the fading rivalry a jolt of electricity going into next season: former Clippers forward Matt Barnes, and during the forwards introduction press conference from Tuesday he’s made it clear his old team is now the enemy.

“The series the past two or three or four years have been well documented that the teams don’t like each other,” Barnes said. “So basically coming from the enemy, now and they’re the enemy.”

A changing of alliances is common in the NBA as any duration on a team is more often than not temporary. Barnes would know better than most in the NBA as he’s now on his ninth team in 14 seasons (LAC, SAC, NYK, PHI, GSW, PHO, ORL, LAL, and now MEM). What is a bit difficult, Barnes said during the press conference, is explaining the change in alliances to his children. “My kids are a little confused still. I have twin boys; they’re just like, ‘Daddy, so do you not like DeAndre [Jordan] and Chris [Paul] and Blake [Griffin] no more?’ I’m like, ‘No they’re still my friends, but they’re my enemy when the ball goes up.’ … For 48 minutes, my only friends are my teammates.”

It’s pretty easy to look at the Grizzlies and see how seamless Barnes’ transition from Los Angeles to Memphis will be. From a basketball perspective, Barnes gives an already-elite defensive team another plus-defender on the wing while adding a much-needed perimeter shooter to the 22nd best three-point shooting team. From a culture perspective, which emphasizes hard-work and persistence through the grit-and-grind mantra while not taking any b.s. from any one player or team, Barnes. And for a hot-head like Barnes, he finally has a team full of players who won’t hesitate to have his back, mainly Tony Allen and Zach Randolph, two players high on the hypothetical “NBA players I wouldn’t want to upset in a dark alley” list.

Speaking of new teammates, remember the time Barnes spoke out on his Twitter account in 2013 about not wanting to defend his teammates anymore because the reciprocation of defense was unequal? “Love my teammates like family, but I’m done standing up for these n****s! All this s**t does is cost me money,” the tweet said specifically. He certainly won’t have to worry about that in Memphis with Allen and Randolph lurking (and don’t underestimate Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Jarnell Stokes, and old-man Vince Carter).

All-in-all, Barnes’ proclamation adds to the fun of the game, and when the NBA releases the schedule, we’ll be sure to mark off the first time the Clippers and Grizzlies + Barnes take to the floor.

More from Clipperholics