More alleged details emerge in the reported Matt Barnes and Derek Fisher altercation

More alleged details emerge in the reported Matt Barnes and Derek Fisher altercation

More alleged – we cannot stress that word enough – details are coming out about the Matt Barnes/Derek Fisher altercation to which Yahoo Sports and the New York Post alerted us Wednesday.

[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

The Post reported that Barnes, a Memphis Grizzlies swingman and former teammate of Fisher (now the coach of the New York Knicks), allegedly bragged to a friend via text in the wake of the fight, which occurred late Saturday evening at the home of Barnes’ ex-wife, Gloria Govan:

Following the dustup, Barnes, 35, texted a pal that he had not only assaulted Fisher, 41, but also took revenge on Govan, one source said.

“I kicked his ass from the back yard to the front room, and spit in her face,” the text read, according to the source.

TMZ reported Thursday that the fight didn’t end until Barnes and Govan’s children, just before midnight on Saturday, begged the coach and forward to stop going at it:

We're told Barnes berated Fisher for dating his estranged wife Gloria Govan -- saying he felt disrespected because they've been good friends for years. The witness says Barnes made it clear he felt betrayed by Fish. 

Fisher stood up to Barnes and an argument broke out -- the witness tells us Barnes threw a punch that hit Derek square in the mouth. 

We're told Derek fought back and "was holding his own" -- until several people, including Gloria, rushed in to try to break it up. 

But the fighting didn't stop until one of Matt's children came into the backyard and begged the men to stop fighting. We're told that pretty much ended things. 

Matt eventually left the home. We're told both men were bleeding from the scrap. 

TMZ and the Post also reported that Fisher will not press charges after the incident.

Barnes and Fisher, safe at home in Memphis and New York, met with the media on Thursday to give their “it is what it is” takes.

They seriously both said that.

Barnes pointed out that it was his distressed children that influenced him to go to his ex-wife’s house, which is understandable up to the point where he (allegedly) punches a guy in the mouth and (allegedly) spits in a woman’s face:

Fisher, meanwhile, briefly discussed talking with Knicks president Phil Jackson, and little else. From the Post:

Fisher said he has spoken to Knicks president Phil Jackson about the dust-up, but wouldn’t divulge anything about the chat.


Fisher said it is “understandable” people would question his dedication, but said he is 100 percent focused on his job with the Knicks.


“It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.”

Told you:

More upsetting than the platitudes was the NBA community's reaction following the alleged incident. That because Fisher was hanging out with and/or dating the ex-wife of a player and former teammate, he somehow deserved to be allegedly attacked, and that the grown woman in question deserves some sort of scorn (and, allegedly, to have her face spit in) for dating whomever the hell she wants.

[Yahoo Fantasy Basketball: Sign up for a league today]

Listen to the “can’t break the code, bro” dork sucking up to Barnes in this interview:

Is it unsavory that a former friend (and let’s not push it here, they were veteran teammates for a season and a half, Fisher is probably closer with Metta World Peace) would date the (say it with me now, loudly) EX-WIFE of a player? I guess, if you’re that obsessed with whom other people are into. Wouldn’t it be better for Fisher to chase after some other fish in the sort of sea that usually warms to millionaire ex-athletes who coach very famous sports teams? Sure?

That’s a nice crutch of a scenario for people to use. In return, I’d ask them to consider the past of the person they’re currently in love with. Would your partner's former husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend stop you in any way from trying to spend time with the person you cherish above all else? Isn’t love supposed to be, y’know, love?

(Only those who are actually in love and in a relationship are allowed to answer. No hypothetical, “no way, bro” here, OK? Also, keep your stones to yourselves, those who have been with the exes – or currents – of former friends.)

The “unsavory” part doesn’t matter. Doesn’t deserve a punch. Fisher might be following through with the ultimate prick move, but you don’t (allegedly) pull this crap in front of your kids.

And, most importantly, you don’t (allegedly) spit in a woman’s face because of her choice in partners.

Of course, because sports are stupid, the anonymous source-heavy sporting world reacted as you’d expect. NBA journalist and Sirius XM NBA radio host Brian Geltzeier polled the usual Tuff Dude suspects that make up this and other leagues, and the reaction was typical (my reply is included):

Because sports are as silly as they often are stupid, Twitter was full of jokes on Wednesday when news hit about an alleged assault in front of kids, reportedly perpetrated by a person in Barnes who was arrested five years ago for allegedly assaulting the same woman. That ha-ha reaction dovetailed with the “don’t cross that line, Fish” nonsense to a worrying degree, and Deadspin’s Albert Burneko was right to tee off on those who aren’t taking this seriously in favor of Twitter Favs:

“ … rooted in the idea that Gloria Govan is in some way still Matt Barnes’s domain, that Derek Fisher was breaching protocol by not considering Matt Barnes’s territorial rights.”


“Here are some plain and obvious truths. Derek Fisher did not do anything wrong by dating Gloria Govan, a grown woman who by all accounts wanted to date him and happens not to have technically extricated herself from a bad marriage that functionally ended over a year ago. Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes are not romantic rivals. Going by the reports, the aggression was not mutual; Derek Fisher went to his girlfriend’s house for the purpose of a peaceful get-together, Matt Barnes invaded the home of his ex for the purpose of doing harm. Neither Gloria Govan’s nor Derek Fisher’s romantic lives are any of Matt Barnes’s damn business.”

This isn’t the “triangle offense,” dudes. Gloria Govan is not with Matt Barnes anymore. Derek Fisher is not with his ex-wife anymore. They’re allowed to see whoever they want to see, and Matt Barnes isn’t a part of any of this, except when it’s his time to pick up and drop off his kids.

If he wants to make it his business to worry about the fortunes of his children at a quarter to midnight on a school night – speaking as someone who became the stepfather of two young daughters, with majority custody, after my wife’s first marriage broke up, and is familiar with the sometimes uneasy back-and-forth that can result – there are ways of dealing with this. I am also speaking as someone with anger issues, someone who has gotten in stupid scrapes that I regret because I’m not 24 anymore.

You don’t do it in front of the kids, allegedly. You don’t, allegedly, mistreat the woman by spitting in her face.

(Now, if you want to chide Fisher for taking a personal day in the middle of his team’s training camp, as the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola did Thursday, go right ahead. I don’t care who Fisher was with: jetting to Los Angeles and back to be with anyone at this time of year was pretty daft.

The fight between Barnes and Fisher reportedly happened just before 3 a.m. New York Knick time on Sunday morning, with a practice scheduled for the following day. Fisher is well within his rights to date whomever the heck he wants to date, but to pull off this cross-country stuff a week after camp starts – whether you coach a 17-win team or a 67-win team – is a bit much.

We in the NBA community are rather lucky that we essentially get the summer off to plan to be around family and friends, even if things can get pretty busy in July, August and September. You can’t flip back to summer mode just a week into the season after what's been, for the Knicks, more than five months off.)

If even an approximation of these reports are true, the NBA, its fans and the people that cover it have some stuff to figure out. Fisher will decline to press charges and this will all be forgotten by the time ABC starts televising games on Christmas, but that doesn’t mean a healthy chunk of those working in or around this league don’t need to smarten up.

This culture has to dissipate. Somehow, in 2015, we still feel the need to get behind these outmoded, pointless, usually destructive unwritten rules about what grown women can and cannot do, and how grown men should react to what they do.


- - - - - - -

Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!