Everyone has seen this 2010 clip of Matt Barnes trying to scare Kobe Bryant with a ball fake to his face. And the reason why I’m bringing out this favorite clip among Black Mamba fans is because today is the eight-year anniversary — Damn right, this is worth celebrating like a milestone — of the day Matt Barnes learned KOBE DON’T FLINCH!
Instead of saying much about the actual play, I’m going to bring up some other interesting things about the game. But first, here’s what Barnes had to say about the play during a recent visit to the I Am Rapaport Podcast.
“If you watch the highlights, he was grabbing me and elbowing me. I had a dunk tip and he elbowed me in the nuts. I told him, ‘If you keep fucking with me, we are are going to fight. Fuck the basketball game. If you want to fight, we can fight.’
“So when I faked the ball in his face, it just came out nowhere. It wasn’t like I planned it or anything. If that ball had hair, it would have hit his face. The motherfucker didn’t flinch. I’m not surprised he didn’t. Anyone else would have.”
You might be thinking Barnes took a big L by not getting a reaction from Kobe. But Barnes and the Magic got the W that night and when Barnes entered free agency after that season, Kobe called him up and asked if he wanted to be a Laker. Three days after the call and a text that said, “Anybody crazy enough to mess with me is crazy enough to play with me,” Barnes was a very happy Laker.
- So number one on the ‘Things You Didn’t Know About The Day Barnes Learned Kobe Don’t Flinch’ is the Lakers lost the game. The loss for the Lakers was the first three-game losing streak of the Kobe-Pau Gasol era.
- The Magic, especially future Laker Dwight Howard, was hyped for this game after hearing some Lakers reportedly referred to the Magic as “puppies.” After the game, Dwight said, “Alpha dogs usually have the big bark. But since we’re so-called puppies, we won’t bark as loud…You got a team full of Pitbulls and a team full of Cane Corsos and that’s what happens.”
- Early in the 3rd quarter, a double-technical foul was called on Barnes and Kobe for getting too physical while battling for rebounding position. Commentator Mark Jackson didn’t think Kobe — who had his arms up in the air when Barnes was in his face — deserved a tech.
- A couple of minutes later, Barnes caught a tip dunk over Kobe, raised his legs and tried to put his crotch in Kobe’s face. This is when Barnes said Kobe “hit him in the nuts.” And this is where things got really crazy. The refs singled a tech and everyone in the arena thought it was on Barnes. But the tech was actually on Dwight Howard for complaining to the refs about not getting a foul call. Barnes stayed in the game and Kobe went to the line and sank one of his eight free throws. Also worth noting about this play is Derek Fisher came over and bumped Barnes after the dunk.
- Seconds after this fiasco is when the infamous inbound play and ball fake happened. What doesn’t get enough attention about this play is the great commentary by Jeff Van Gundy: “When you have a pillow fight and someone fakes a pillow at you, don’t you at least flinch? That’s the play of the game, he didn’t even flinch!” When Kobe was asked by a reporter why he didn’t flinch, his response was, “I knew he wasn’t going to do shit. Why should I flinch for?”
- After a missed three by Kobe, Barnes hit a clutch three with a little more than a minute remaining in the game. After a timeout, Kobe tried to respond but missed a layup.
- Seconds later, Barnes and Derek Fisher had some words, which led to a double foul. Knowing what we know now about Fisher eventually ending up with Barnes’ ex and Barnes reportedly driving “95 miles to beat the shit out of Fisher,” this altercation/fight preview is pretty amusing.
- After another missed jumper, Kobe hit a three and celebrated prematurely with his teammates; the refs reviewed the shot and ruled it a two, making it a one-point game. After a free throw by Vince Carter, Kobe had a shot to force OT but missed a 20-footer with a second left on the clock. Kobe finished the game with 34 points on 12-of-30 shooting.
- This has nothing to do with Barnes or Kobe but worth knowing is Metta World Peace dyed his hair blonde and wrote “defense” in Hebrew, Hindi, and Japanese in his hair.
- The Magic bench also included a young Marcin Gortat and J.J. Redick and an old Jason Williams. Neither Gortat or Redick were double-figure scorers yet and this was White Chocolate’s second to last season in the NBA. You can now catch Williams playing ball in the Orlando Pro-Am with his team, Pedro’s Posse.
So what are Kobe and Barnes up to now? Well, Kobe just won an Oscar (thanks to a multi-million dollar budget and the help of two legends in the film industry) and the recently retired Barnes is in the process of producing a biopic on Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton.