Matt Barnes has a special history with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Magic signed the journeyman small forward last year after the Lakers trounced them in the 2008-09 NBA Finals in five games. The theory was that, in the event of a rematch, Barnes could use his special “defense” to throw Kobe Bryant off of his game. That defense is annoying, pestering, poking, and prodding until he gets under his opponents’ skin. And now he’ll be doing that for the Lakers after signing a two-year deal worth $3.6 million.
Barnes specifically drew attention by jawing with Bryant during the Magic and Lakers’ first rematch at the Staples Center in January. The Lakers won that game by 6, but the Magic bounced back and won their second matchup in March. That game was highlighted by Barnes ball-checking Bryant’s face on an inbound pass. So how can these two be expected to get along now that they’re teammates? Easy. It was all just some sweet, sweet flirting.
“Kobe has been the driving force behind this. I have been talking to Kobe back and forth like we were boyfriend and girlfriend for the last two weeks and sending us texts and talking. It feels good when you have the best player in the world in your corner and Kobe is definitely in my corner. He sent me a crazy text message today saying something like, anyone crazy enough to mess with me is crazy enough to play with me. So I think that was a good tone to set and I think I am ready to be a Laker.” (Pro Basketball Talk)
But Barnes will have to make this sordid man-on-man embrace a threeway soon, because there’s still some unfinished business with Lamar Odom. After that March 7 game, Odom likened Barnes to professional wrestler Ric Flair. Barnes responded via Twitter:
“Morning yall up early w/ the babies watchn Dora. Seems Lamar can’t keep my name out his mouth maby I need 2 put my sons [expletive] diaper n it.”
Things got worse when someone explained to Khloe Kardashian that [expletive] isn’t a type of chocolate.
The Lakers’ theory of recruiting Bryant’s enemies paid off last season when they added Ron Artest, so if the addition of Barnes helps the Lakers win a third straight NBA Championship, then Bryant can undoubtedly expect some prank calls from someone named LeJon Brames.