Matt Barnes was brought to tears thinking about Kobe Bryant as he watched The Last Dance seeing similarities between Michael Jordan and Kobe.
Matt Barnes never got to play with or against Michael Jordan. His 14-year career in the NBA started just after Jordan retired for the final, final time from the Washington Wizards. Watching “The Last Dance” made Barnes realize he had experienced what it was like to play with Jordan at practice with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant.
“To be able to see the real side of Mike, which was crazy, that was Kobe,” Barnes said. “Kobe would cuss people out, Kobe would get in people’s asses, Kobe would do whatever it took to win to motivate guys. It really choked me up at the same time, because I’d be like remember when Kobe did that to so and so, or I remember Kobe saying that sort of stuff in practice. If you are going to emulate anyone, why not emulate the greatest and Kobe did as good a job as you could of making Kobe Bryant, Jordan 2.0.”
Bryant wasn’t the most popular teammate at times and neither was Jordan. Barnes considers that a badge of honer that comes with the price of winning, being the best. He felt honored to be on the same team as Kobe.
“When you hear all this sensitive talk, well I wouldn’t want to play with Mike, it’s about winning. You play basketball to win, and make as much money as you can while you can. If you’re able to develop lifelong friendships through that, its only icing on the cake. I loved the chance I got to play with the next best thing next to Mike.”
Barnes and Kobe did stay friends after their playing careers ended. Bryant came on Barnes podcast All The Smoke, and Barnes would go watch Kobe coach his daughter Gigi on the basketball court. Bryant would watch Barnes’s twins play basketball as well, sending them shoes so they could be styling on the court.
Barnes saw Kobe enjoying his life, something he hopes Jordan will emulate.
“To be able to see Kobe post-career, and seeing him smile, seeing him courtside with his daughters, seeing him courtside with his family, seeing him do other things,” Barnes said. “As a fan of the game and as a fan of Michael Jordan, I would like to see Mike just being able to smile and laugh and show everyone that life is good.”
Barnes is working with the new documentary-style series BLACKBALLED, which can be watched on Quibi. It highlights the five days during the 2014 NBA playoffs when the Donald Sterling tapes were released that ultimately got Sterling banned from the NBA.