Matt Barnes and Blake Griffin had issues before Barnes signed with the Clippers.
Barnes, then playing for the Lakers, flagrantly fouled Griffin during a 2010 preseason game:
Barnes also accused Griffin of flopping:
So, Barnes and Griffin had to patch things up before Barnes signed with the Clippers.
So before agreeing to acquire the nine-year veteran, Barnes said, the Clippers checked with Griffin to receive his blessing. Barnes said he also spoke with Griffin on Thursday.
“I just kind of explained to him that it was no disrespect to him or his game,” Barnes said. “I think he’s one of the best players in the league and arguably the most athletic player. I play basketball hard-nosed and if you’re not on my team, during that 48 minutes we’re enemies. He appreciated it and understood where I was coming from.”
Apparently, though, Barnes’ problem with Griffin ran deeper than just not liking his flopping.
You just see it over and over where Blake decides to sort of get that look on his face where he’s Mr. Tough Guy, and he steps toward guys and doesn’t end up doing anything.
To a lot of NBA guys, that is an ultimate crime, that is being a faux tough guy. Being a fake tough guy is a real minus in this league.
And I’ve had people tell me they would rather see Blake step to a guy and follow through and get in a full-fledged fight and change the perception that he will do something if you keep knocking him around. Obviously, he gets fouled all the time and gets fouled hard.
But in this league, right or wrong, there’s a perception that you should stand up for yourself and do something. If you’re not going to, then don’t act like you’re going to.
And a lot of people look at that and see – Matt Barnes, even, Blake’s teammate, when he was with the Lakers, felt adamant about this. This is a guy who won’t back it up – and in the NBA, that’s a crime.
That adds background to this 2013 incident, when Griffin and Serge Ibaka got into it and Barnes leapt to Griffin’s defense:
I love my teammates like family, but I’m DONE standing up for these niggas! All this shit does is cost me money..
Barnes and Griffin seem cool now, though:
The lesson: As much as opponents dislike Griffin, they’d probably grow to love playing with him.