Matt Barnes no longer plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. Fortunately for the many NBA fans who long for physical, downright nasty play of the 1980s and ’90s, though, the league’s foremost agitator found his way to the Memphis Grizzlies – who just happen to have a rivalry of their own with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Barnes stoked the Grizzlies-Thunder fire earlier last week, offering to fight Serge Ibaka “right now.” OKC’s defensive extraordinaire quickly accepted the invitation, with the caveat that a UFC-style bout would only happen after his team hoists the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
That should have been the end of it, at least until Memphis and Oklahoma City meet on the court in 2015-16. But this is the offseason, when some players just can’t but make waves through the media. From Dan Woike of the Orange County Register, Barnes fanned the flames again during an appearance on The Chris Vernon Show:
Video evidence supports Barnes’ take on interactions between Ibaka and Blake Griffin. But while the first clip is horrifically unsportsmanlike and certainly worthy of immense criticism, the latter seems accidental. Take a look at both incidents for yourself:
Kendrick Perkins clearly pushes Ibaka into Griffin in the second video, right? Then again, it’s not like the Thunder big man deserves benefit of the doubt. He’s definitely earned the “dirty” label.
We’ll never appreciate a war of words like this one. It’s all posturing. Unlike another ridiculous feud between NBA stars, however, at least Barnes and Ibaka’s will have tangible on-court impact going forward. Needless to say, we can’t wait to watch the Grizzlies and Thunder square off come the fall.