OAKLAND, Calif. — The signing of Matt Barnes has presented quite the condundrum to many Warriors’ fans.
Some find it hard to look past the laundry list of Barnes’ off the court issues. But for others, like myself, it is as equally difficult to not bask in the overwhelming nostalgic feeling that comes with seeing Barnes back in a Warriors’ jersey.
What started has a frantic patchwork type signing to fill the gaping hole left by Kevin Durant has since blossomed into a quality acquisition.
The six-foot nine-inch 36 year-old veteran does not have many limitations on the basketball court. Steve Kerr called Barnes a jack of all trades who doesn’t necessarily need to score the ball to be effective. “Matt’s a good shooter, not a great shooter, but he’s a guy that you have to honor out there if you are defending him,” added Kerr.
Barnes’ addition to the team has been about as seamless as one could possibly hope for when brining in a new player this late in the season. His versatility as a defender has streamlined him into the small ball rotation, which completely shut off the water last night in the second quarter by holding the Bucks to just 15 points. “He can play the power forward spot so that we can still spread you out, play small and defend,” said Kerr of Barnes. “He keeps us going with our pace [and] pushes the ball. He’s been a tremendous addition. We are really lucky to have him.”
Barnes scored seven points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out three assists in 24 minutes of action last night against the Bucks. He finished with a +22 plus/minus and didn’t record a single turnover. Klay Thompson said he looked like the ‘We Believe’ version of Matt Barnes.
Thompson also noted that Barnes brings a certain level of toughness to the Warriors off the bench. Barnes is not shy about discussing his emotional and passionate style of play which has defined him as a player, however he seems to have turned a corner his second time around with the Warriors.
Golden State is not just another stop in the journeyman’s career. “This has always been a special place for [me], Barnes told reporters just days after being signed. “This was the last place my Mom saw me play before she died of cancer in that 2008 season. So a lot of special memories and relationships I built here. It’s just great to be back.”
Barnes grew into his own with Golden State the during the 2006-07 season. Gwenn Knapp wrote a piece that ran in the SF Chronicle that detailed how Ann Barnes, Matt’s mother, became so deeply affected by the magical ‘We Believe’ squad that she even requested to be buried in a Warriors jersey.
“She said she wanted to be buried in her jersey,” said Barnes just hours prior to tip-off of that game. “We got a jersey made for her, with her name on it. We’re not going to bury her in that, but we got a jersey made for her.”
After missing five games to be with his ailing mother, Ann requested that Matt return to his team. She passed away four hours after the game ended.
Matt Barnes has rejoined the Warriors in 2017 with a renewed focus, one that is centered around accomplishing what the ‘We Believe’ squad could not; Winning a championship.
Barnes will not put the team on his back and single handedly will the Warriors to a victory. But he is a seasoned veteran with playoff experience and a sense of basketball toughness that is not developed over time, rather god given.
His demeanor with the team has been encouraging. He looks to make the right play on every possession and stay within his role. It’s become evident that Barnes is playing for more than just himself, but for his teammates and quite possibly the biggest Warriors’ fan of them all, his mother.