Before Matt Barnes hung his jerseys and sneakers up for good, he was able to snag one title ring with the Golden State Warriors in 2017. While he knows he deserves it, Barnes admits that it would have been much sweeter if he had won a title a few years earlier with the LA Clippers.
To recall, the Warriors picked up Barnes late in the 2016-17 season to fill Kevin Durant’s spot. The forward was sidelined due to an MCL sprain. In an unfortunate turn of events, in Durant’s first game back, it was Barnes who went down with an ankle injury. It prevented him from suiting up in the entire playoffs. However, since he was formally part of the team, the organization still awarded him with a ring. These realities made Barnes wish to have won his first title ring a few years earlier.
"I don't ever want to come off as disrespectful, as I had a tremendous opportunity with a great group of guys to get a ring that has my name on it. But I was just with those guys post All-Star break, so half a season? Those guys (GSW) were always our rivals, we had a small low-key rivalry when we played for the Clippers. I always feel like the Lob City team missed out... It would've meant more with guys we played with for 3-4 years and built something. I took so much pride in playing for the Clippers. I played for the Lakers and there's nothing like playing for the Lakers, but I've always been an underdog. So, I took pride in trying to help a piece of sh*t team find an identity... I was appreciative of the opportunity with Golden State, but if we won a ring with the Clippers, it'd be a lot more meaningful," Barnes said, per The Old Man & The Three podcast.
Barnes was a member of the LA Clippers from 2012 to 2015. As he noted, it was known as Lob City with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan at the forefront. They were throwing alley-oops all day long with ease and efficiency. Lob City was easily the best thing that ever happened to the organization. Before that, they were known as just the other team in LA. It all makes sense why Barnes, a second overall pick, identifies with the Clippers organization.
It was with the Clippers where Barnes logged in career-highs in points (10.3 per game) and minutes (29.9). Sadly, the Clippers failed to make it past the second round during Barnes’ time and pretty much during the entire Lob City era. These failures forced the front office to tweak the roster little by little. Barnes was one of the first ones to go.
Barnes isn’t being choosy. As he pointed out, he felt grateful that the Warriors gave him that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a contending squad. And Barnes knows he worked his tail off every single day to earn that spot. But as other NBA players have testified, some teams are just closer to your heart. For Barnes, it is the LA Clippers.