Scrubdown #5: Matt Barnes

There comes a time in any commenter or bloggers life when they must name themselves. Some, the weak among us, choose to simply use their first name. Others choose inside jokes, or references to athletes. Me, I chose a compound. The second half, you may note, is the second syllable of the word "orgasm", and quite frankly, I've considered dropping it from time to time, since it kind of gives off this aura of offensiveness which I try to save for the actual content of the things I write. The first half is the last name of Phoenix Suns SF Matt Barnes. 

But why? Why devote my name to him? Why devote my website to him? He's a marginal Knick at best. A jury of my commenting peers didn't deign him to be amongst the best 5 Knick scrubs of all time until Seth rigged the vote, a surprisingly strong move for a guy without the cojones to come up with a fake name. (Yeah, I said it.) Why am I obsessed with a mid-rotation guy who plays 3000 miles away from me? Why did I spend the past two years staying up all night watching Warriors games, even before they became America's darlings by knocking off the Mavericks? Kids, sit down, I have a story to tell.

It was October of 2005. Gas cost $3.80, George W. Bush was the President, and Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" topped the charts, and Knicks fans like myself basked in naivete. We had won 33 games the year before, and were on the upswing, having shed all types of dead weight: The Thomases, Kurt and Tim were gone, bust Mike Sweetney had been dealt, and Allan Houston and Jerome Williams' only cast salary cap shadows on our squad, in came three first round draft picks in franchise savior Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, and a late first round castoff named David Lee who'd probably ride pine. Also, we had last year's 3 point shootout winner, Quentin Richardson, and a budding center prospect in Eddy Curry. Most importantly, interim head coach Herb Williams had been replaced by a real coach. Brace yourselves, because I'll only type the words that form his name once: Larry Brown. A championship winner and hometown boy. Shit seemed good. 

And I remember sitting there, on opening night, we were on the road in Boston, and our starting lineup popped up on the screen. Marbury, Quentin Richardson, Matt Barnes, Antonio Davis, and Eddy Curry. Matt Barnes? Who in the fuck was Matt Barnes?

Matt Barnes, it turned out, was a heavily tattooed small forward who had made the team out of training camp, with previous stints in Sactown, Philly, and the Clip show, with no success anywhere. Not only had he made the squad out of training camp, but he would go on to start the first three games of the season.

The Knicks lost all three.

Matt would go on to play sparingly in six games over the first two weeks of the season, and his playing style was astoundingly awesome. Matt Barnes hustles, but does so in a method that seems astoundingly disconnected from the rest of the world. For example, on defense, he'll just randomly swing his arms in every direction possible, like he's trying to mug the shit out of someone who happens to be in some sort of force field, and sometiimes, he'll take the ball out of the backcourt and run top speed, gesticulating wildly like he's on a fast break even if it's like, completely not a fast break. These are the ways Matt Barnes plays basketball, and this is how I first realized that Matt Barnes is addicted to crack. 

After playing a little bit under 100 minutes of crack-induced running, sprinting, yelling, Matt was cut in early december. Whatever Matt had shown in training camp, apparantly, was so absent in those 100 minutes, that Larry Brown decided that Barnes had no place, even on what was clearly becoming the most mismanaged, most fucked up teams in the history of the game, a team that would win a grand total of 23 games. My friends and I started asking: why in the fuck did we cut Matt Barnes? It clearly wasn't basketball related, because this team sucked so damn bad, and Barnes had only played 100 minutes. It had to have been something off-court. What could he had possibly have done that was so bad? Perhaps, we decided, he had attempted to kidnap Larry Brown and sell him to passers-by for 39.95 with which he hoped to purchase crack. Perhaps he had been distracting practices by showing up three hours early, peeling scrap metal out of walls somehow, and offering to suck George Glymph's cock for three dollars. Whatever it was, Barnes had attained legendary status. The guy who got cut from a team so bad that Jackie Butler appeared a shining light. A team that traded for he-who-shall-not-be-named, as if that would improve anything. When we cut Matt Barnes, it became clear that something was horribly wrong, and that for the world to be good again, another team would have to embrace a player, regardless of his crack smoking roots.

Anyway, Matt has moved on to bigger and better things. As you may have seen, he was on that really big Warriors team that became famous a few years ago, and now is considered a well-known enough NBA player that people make mixes of Matt Barnes, trust his haircutting advice, and write gay porn involving him. However, as the world's pre-eminent Matt Barnes expert, scholar, blogger, and gospel-spreader, I urge you: look past the shit he's done and the mild success that he's had. The true way to acknowledge Matt Barnes essence, being, and all that other good shit, is to look at those 6 games from a season of shittiness, where some poor crack smoking fuck just trying to make his way in the NBA world got caught up in one of the biggest clusterfucks of a season in the history of the association.



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