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”Nah f**k Miami, you want to be a Laker” — how Kobe Bryant convinced Matt Barnes to play for the Los Angeles Lakers instead of the Miami Heat

The fact that Matt Barnes was recruited by the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers speaks volumes as to how good he was a role player.
Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Clippers small forward Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes and Kobe Bryant

When Matt Barnes was a free agent in 2010, he had a choice whether to play for LeBron James and the Miami Heatles or Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. He admitted that he was simultaneously in touch with Dwyane Wade and Bryant.

Both the Heat and the Lakers were considered championship contenders at that time, and Barnes had the luxurious choice to make such a decision. In the end, Barnes decided to go west to play with Bryant over the Heatles.

One call with Kobe sealed the deal.

It's rare for two all-time great players to chase after role players like Barnes. That speaks volumes as to how good Barnes was as a player during his prime. He was a decent wing and forward who averaged 8.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game and could be counted on to play defense.

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So when he had to choose between playing with Bryant or James, Barnes couldn't pass up on the opportunity to be a Laker and share the floor with The Black Mamba.

"One day I get a phone call. I'm still out in Orlando chilling, and I get a call from a number I don't know," Barnes said in his latest appearance on The Club Shay Shay podcast. "And I never pick up my phone. And I just happened to pick up the phone, and it's him [Bryant]. He's like 'It's Kob..'. We start going back and forth, and he ask me what I'm doing. And I literally tell him I'm kind of back and forth, I'm talking to Miami right now. He's like 'Nah f*** Miami, you want to be a Laker. ' And I'm like hell yeah, and like four days later I was a Laker," Barnes added.

Barnes came to the Lakers at the wrong time.

Aside from the opportunity to play alongside Bryant, the Lakers also came off back-to-back championships before recruiting Barnes. The opportunity to ring chase was an offer he couldn't pass up on, but it just so happened that Los Angeles collapsed in the same year Barnes arrived.

In 2011, the Lakers along with their hopes to 3-peat, were destroyed by the Dallas Mavericks, who swept them out of the Playoffs. It was Phil Jackson's last year as a coach, and he admitted that there was an apparent tension and conflict between the front office and the coaching staff and players, which significantly played a huge role in the Lakers' downfall that year.

Unfortunately for Barnes, he never won a title with the Lakers, but at the very least, he got his wish to be in the purple and gold uniform and play with Bryant for two straight seasons. 

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