Matt Barnes: Summer after he ball-faked to Kobe’s face, Bryant asked him to join Lakers

Kurt Helin
NBC Sports

In the insanely long list of Kobe Bryant highlight videos, this one gets played as much as almost any: A 2010 regular season game against Orlando when Matt Barnes is inbounding the ball, does a ball-fake inches from Kobe’s face, and Bryant doesn’t flinch.

Barnes was on the “Lunchtime with Roggin and Rodney” show on “AM 570 LA Sports” show Friday and talked about that play — and how it made him a Laker the next season.

“Man, we were both going at it that game. It was touchy… that was near the end of the season, we were tops in the East I think they were tops in the West, it’s just playoff intensity. It was something where he was doing his Kobe stuff — the elbowing, talking trash, grabbing and pinching and doing all kinds of stuff — and it got heated.

“So in that particular situation, it wasn’t planned it just happened. If you watch the film, I’m just letting the play behind him transpire but I just happened to fake the ball in his face and I came as close as I am to the microphone (in the studio) and he didn’t even blink, which I loved after the fact but I didn’t realize at the time.

“But shortly after that they went on to win the championship and we fell to Boston in the Eastern Conference Championship, and they went on to beat Boston. And in free agency Kobe hit me up himself like, ‘Hey, you want to be a Laker?’ and I’m ‘Hell ya, I’ve always been a Laker fan’ and he said, ‘Anyone crazy enough to f*** with me is crazy enough to play with me.’”

That sounds like Kobe.

Those two went at it a lot more over the years as Barnes moved on from the Lakers to play for the Clippers, in Memphis, and other stops.

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