At the start of March in 2017, Matt Barnes signed as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors to help fill in te minutes for Kevin Durant, who had suffered a knee injury. Over the course of 20 games down the stretch of that season, Barnes became a regular part of Warriors’ bench rotation, averaging 20 minutes a night and even starting five games. Then, right before the playoffs, Barnes sprained his ankle. Barnes never saw the court in the first round and his role shrunk in the postseason, he played fewer than 10 minutes total in the NBA Finals.
Because of that limited role, Barnes doesn’t refer to himself as an NBA champion. He doesn’t feel he earned it, and he doesn’t have his championship ring, something Barnes explained recently on the “All The Smoke” podcast (hat tip NBC Sports Bay Area)
“That ring is still in — shoutout Raymond Ridder, the best media dude, mogul for the Golden State Warriors — that thing is sitting in his office. I don’t count that as a championship…
“I came in when [Durant] went down, playing a consistent 20-25 minutes, the game KD comes back, I get hurt maybe a week before the playoffs and I’m out of it,. Worst ankle sprain of my life. I’m not healthy until the end of the second round when they’re already 8-0. So me being a vet knowing they’re not going to change the rotation, I’m not expecting them to change the rotation, I’m just going to sit here and be a super vet, cheer these mother f****** on, talk to people when they need to be talked to and just enjoy the ride.
“I didn’t sweat. I wasn’t in the mother f****** dog hole with these dudes. I didn’t get to guard LeBron. I got a free ride, I got a free ring.”
Barnes played an important role on the Warriors when the team needed it, and guys have gotten rings for a lot less. Still, it is admirable Barnes has standards and sticks to them.
That ring, however, might be something he and his family want someday.