Yesterday I reported that Matt Barnes slapped an assistant coach Monday night during a summer league game in San Francisco. Barnes acknowledged he slapped the coach, Rick Lewis of the SF City Golf Rush, to Sam Amick of AOL Fanhouse Wednesday night.
According to two fans who were at Monday’s championship series opener and spoke to FanHouse, Barnes — who was arguing a call with an official during the third quarter of a contentious game — slapped an assistant coach of the Gold Rush team after a brief verbal exchange. The coach, according to a report on the web site Sports by Brooks, was Rick Lewis.
Having already diffused several “minor tussles,” as one of the fans who spoke to FanHouse said, the officials conferred and assessed double technical fouls and let all involved continue play. Barnes told FanHouse on Wednesday night that the coach’s taunting in his ear caused him to lose his temper but said he should have handled the situation differently.
“Some people do too much or talk too much, and there’s only so much you can take,” said Barnes, who does not expect the coach to pursue a lawsuit. “It’s hard. It’s definitely hard when the refs have it out for you, saying ‘Oh, you’re in the NBA, so you don’t get this (call) and we’re going to call this.’ Then the coach is talking and completely disrespecting me.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time I’ve got to keep my composure because I’m a professional and I get paid to do this. I lost my professionalism for a little while, but I regained my composure and we won a championship tonight.”
Obviously Barnes isn’t going to come out and say “I SLAPPED HIM!” for legal reasons, but it happened and the fact that he acknowledged a lawsuit as a possibility belies that.
Barnes was doing the league a favor by showing up Monday and Wednesday, a fact I’m sure not lost on Lewis. Add in that Lewis was mocking Barnes before he was slapped - and that there wasn’t much force behind the blow - and safe to assume Lewis won’t be suing.
That doesn’t excuse Barnes’ appalling lack of professionalism.
What makes it worse to me is that Barnes thought it was alright to do it in a non-NBA setting. As if it’s okay to slap someone so long as they aren’t standing in an NBA arena.
Barnes got away with one. We’ll see if he learns from the experience.