Exclusive Interview With Matt Barnes

By Eric G. Satterwhite

After a sparkling performance against the Dallas Mavericks this past Sunday the Golden State Warriors have attained a 3-1 lead in the opening round of the NBA playoffs. The best of seven series moves to Texas tonight and if Dallas loses then Mark Cuban’s franchise will be left wondering why they could not defend there Western Conference Championship and make good on being the prohibitive favorite to win this year’s Lawrence O’Brien trophy as NBA Champs. Despite the fact Dallas had the fifth best winning percentage in NBA history at 67-15 during the regular season and home court throughout the playoffs, the Mavericks have been out-poised, outplayed, out-hustled, and out-hearted by a team making there first playoff entry in twelve years.

One of the players responsible for Golden State’s impressive run in the playoffs is Matt Barnes, the third year pro out of UCLA who has thrived under “Nellie” and is posting career highs in all statistical categories. More importantly Matt Barnes has played every position from 1 to 5 both offensively and defensively. The intangibles Barnes has provided are beyond statistics and his leadership for the one of the NBA’s youngest teams is most noteworthy. It was Barnes in Game 4 who fearlessly bombed home a 3-point field goal with 23.9 seconds on the clock closing out the Mavericks and sending the gold-clad Oracle Arena fans into a certified frenzy!

I have had the privilege of watching the development of Matt Barnes since he was a freshman in High School because his high school team played in the same league I coached in Sacramento, California. I also had the honor of coaching Barnes in the Sacramento Pro Developmental League a professional summer league held in Sacramento and I have watched him tirelessly work on his perimeter shooting and ball-handling skills. Both Barnes and this year’s runner-up for Most Improved Player, the Sacramento Kings Kevin Martin, each played all summer under the watchful eye of Sacramento Pro Developmental League Commissioner Guss Armstead who oversaw the development of these talents. Barnes has worked tirelessly to improve his game at his current level and is now reaping the rewards of his labor while positioning himself as one of the top free agents this summer as well as becoming a hoops folk hero in the Bay Area and beyond.

The following interview was taken prior to Game 5 against the Dallas Mavericks.

HoopsAddict.com: After the victory last Sunday giving the Warriors a 3-1 lead against the Mavericks Coach Don Nelson stated afterward, “It was a great win for the franchise.” Discuss the collective outlook of the team after the Game 4 win.

Matt Barnes: We were definitely excited yet at the same time we knew we still have some unfinished business. Dallas was very distressed after that game knowing they played well and still lost. We realize we need to step it up another notch to close out the series and keep aggressive while the Mav’s psyche was reeling.

HoopsAddict.com: Going into tonight’s game is that the mindset to play in the confident/fearless approach that have put your team up in the series against the defending Western Conference Champs?

Matt Barnes:
Absolutely. We need to continue to feed off the energy we created and the chemistry we’ve built. Our team mindset is to keep our composure and stay mentally focused…let are talents and skill do the rest. We’re prepared and confident

HoopsAddict.com: You mention composure. The last time you played in Dallas Baron Davis was ejected as well as Stephen Jackson. Is that something that Coach Nelson talked about or is “keeping the composure” something that’s understood?

Matt Barnes: Coach mentioned it (composure) yet did not spend much time going over keeping our cool. As a team we realize what’s in front of us and how much we earned the right to be in this position. Going in to tonight’s game we’re ready to roll and maintaining our poise is a non-issue.

HoopsAddict.com: You have become a visible team leader along with Baron Davis. Is your leadership role something you assumed or something the coaching staff has requested?

Matt Barnes: It’s a combination of the two. I have always been a vocal leader and since Baron and I played together at UCLA we’re able to demand things from our teammates who know we’re seeking the same goals our best performance. As far as being a team leader I’m thankful for the confidence the Coaching staff affords me and the trust my teammates have in me.

HoopsAddict.com:
Speaking of Baron Davis, who was your teammate at UCLA, describe Baron’s performance?

Matt Barnes:
Baron has shown why he is one of the best players not just best guards in the NBA and we’re building off his lead. Baron and I only played together 1 year at UCLA yet we have a great understanding of one another and are able to demand that each one of us play our best. We can cheer for each other as well as be very critical because we can handle it.

HoopsAddict.com: You are one of the more unique players in the NBA because your roles with the Warrior’s require you to play all five positions both offensively and defensively. Since Coach Nelson utilizes your myriad skills different each game and never the same way describe your pre-game mental preparation?

Matt Barnes: Since I do play all five positions both on offense and defense I can’t mentally overload on any one player defensively or lock into a position mindset offensively. Pretty much I prepare accordingly by having enough knowledge of the opponent and adjust accordingly. My mental approach is open-minded and I merge my skills based on each situation.

HoopsAddict.com: That’s very humble of you because it takes a high Basketball IQ to show up to the Arena and play well professionally at the highest level without a defined position. Elaborate more on the term “mental overload”.

Matt Barnes: Basically most players know going into the game there assigned match-up and all their respective match-ups tendencies so they “load-up” via film and scouting reports. I’m different because defensively against Dallas I’ve guarded Josh Howard, Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, and Dirk Nowitzki. I just understand the big picture from game to game.

HoopsAddict.com: You’re playing for a legendary Coach in the personage of Don Nelson. Describe the experience of playing for “Nellie”?

Matt Barnes: It has been a dream come true playing for Coach Nelson. I was in Philadelphia prior to coming to Golden State and I was thinking retirement. I was disrespected badly by Mo Cheeks while in Philadelphia and was contemplating pursuing a football career. Then over the summer I worked hard on my game and God blessed me with the opportunity to play in Golden State. Coach Nelson has been a father figure, an uncle, a brother, a mentor, a cousin, and more importantly a friend. You can talk to Coach about anything. When he arrived in Golden State he explained my role and allowed me to flourish. He has given me and my teammates a freedom we felt we never had in the NBA and when it comes from a coaching legend its more powerful.

HoopsAddict.com: Since I’ve known you since High School I’m aware football is your first love and you were an All-American receiver as a prep setting National records for touchdown receptions. I find it interesting you were contemplating retirement to pursue the NFL. Elaborate on the 76er experience.

Matt Barnes:
I had a bad experience with Mo Cheeks. No Coach ever talked to me in the matter and he did beat down my confidence. I was wondering if his view was how the league (NBA) thought about me. God blessed with this opportunity at Golden State after I worked hard on my game this summer and I feel most fortunate where I am at right here and right now.

HoopsAddict.com: There are thousands of Warrior fans that echo those sentiments. Let’s rewind to Coach Nelson. You used the word freedom to describe his system. Is that the essence of the Warriors approach?

Matt Barnes: No doubt. We have several players coming from different teams like myself. Players like Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, and Baron Davis all smart players who have thrived in his system. Myself and the other players have brought are collective frustration together and displayed the energy in Coach’s style to play well. We’re jelling at the right time with career Warriors like Jason Richardson and Mickael Pietrus. The young guys like Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins also realize how fortunate they are to play under Coach Nelson. Let me further say you have to earn Coach Nelson’s respect and trust and when that happens he gives you 100% confidence.

HoopsAddict.com: Let’s back track a little bit. I had a discussion about you with Frank Burlison of http://www.frankhoops.com who covered your initial professional playing days with the Long Beach Jam of the ABA. One of your teammates was Dennis Rodman. Describe your relationship with Dennis Rodman and what you learned from him that still impact your game approach.

Matt Barnes: I played with Long Beach for a short time before going to the NBDL yet Rodman was a great teammate. Here was a guy with multiple NBA championships and he was banging the boards playing tenacious every game. I learned from Rodman to play hard every night and never let up.

HoopsAddict.com: Chris Mullin former NBA great and President of Basketball Operations seems to have righted the Warriors ship. Even Commissioner stern recently mentioned he thought the franchise was somewhat “snake-bitten”. What’s your take on the Warriors organization since you’ve played with several NBA franchises.

Matt Barnes: Great organization stacked with great people. The Warriors are not afraid to bring in the best and brightest minds to build great chemistry and a winning franchise at every level of the organization. Chris Mullin, General Manager Rod Higgins, and front office executive Mitch Richmond have one goal which is to be successful and surround the team with great basketball minds and players. I like every player on the team feel like I have found a home in Golden State.

HoopsAddict.com: Speaking of Warrior executives, Al Attles who has over 45 years with the team and also coached the only NBA championship in 1975 the Warriors attained is a Bay Area legend. Do you communicate with Al Attles?

Matt Barnes: Absolutely. Mr. Attles always has an encouraging word to say to you…always. Mr. Attles shares some real insight and then we implement his views into the game plan.

HoopsAddict.com: I have always thought that the venue at Oracle Arena in Oakland was an excellent NBA atmosphere even in the lean years of Warriors success. Describe the vibe at Oracle Arena the last 2 playoff games that set Arena records each game for attendance.

Matt Barnes: It has been the most incredible experience of my life. I’ve played home games at Madison Square Garden, Staples Center, and Arco Arena yet the last two-playoff games at Oracle have been electric, the fans cheer throughout the National Anthem and the final buzzer. Our fans have suffered yet stayed faithful since this is out first playoff appearance in a dozen years. Everything we do a s a team is for our fans and the entire Bay Area is showering us with much love and our fan base is our number one motivation for wanting to advance in the playoffs.

HoopsAddict.com: I know it’s game day so take our readers out on the final question. You’re a free agent after this season and have had an exceptional playoff series and best season as a NBA player. It seems that Golden State is where you want to suit up next year?

Matt Barnes: I want to be a Warrior without question. There are players who say “act tough” like being disinterested in returning to the team is a feeling that’s a bargaining chip for more money. Yet I’m happy and appreciative to be at Golden State and have no problem sharing how being a Warrior is a career priority. Right now though my focus is on winning tonight’s game and advancing through the playoffs. That’s my only objective right now. Everything else can wait to summer.

Hoops Addict: Thanks for the time and best of luck in tonight’s Game 5.

Matt Barnes: I appreciate that and thank you.

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41 thoughts on “Exclusive Interview With Matt Barnes

  1. Eric, good get. I met Barnes at Chris Webber’s Bada Bling when he was a member of the Sixers. He was really upset that they didn’t give him any playing time. I’m proud that he flipped that negative into such a successful season. He is a huge part of the Warriors success.

  2. Thanks Eric! As a hoop fan on the East Coast these playoffs are killing me because all of the late games have been amazing so I haven’t been able to turn off the set. Tonight I’m stoked to see Barnes and his teammates oust the Mavericks from the playoffs and this interview was just the “boost” I needed to ensure I didn’t fall asleep after the Raps/Nets game tonight. However, when my alarm rudely wakes me up tomorrow morning after just five hours of sleep I’ll be cussing you out under my breath buddy 🙂

    The part about him considering the NFL was a huge scoop and not something I was aware of. Warriors fans must be ecstatic that he decided to stick with hoops because he’s a huge part of their playoff run (as shown by the three he drilled with 23.9 seconds left in game four to secure the win for Golden State).

    Thanks again for putting the leg work into securing this interview and getting it online before tip off tonight!

  3. Thanks for that Eric and Ryan for putting it up, great interview. The whole Mo Cheeks thing sheds some light on his end huh?

    Ah one thing you could’ve asked: how does one get such a nice ‘mohawk cut? 😀

  4. Thanks for the comments brethren…As for the Matt Mohawk that was at the top of my question list and after I started interviewing Matt I was captivated with his honesty and forthrightness and plain forgot. I called him after we finished the interview for the Mohawk hairstyle, yet the phone was turned due to the pre-game nap. I will follow-up with Matt for the roots of the Mohawk and post it ASAP! Again, thanks for the reviews.

  5. Seriously, does anyone from Sacramento not realize that Gus is an imposter? I know the Bee loves to give him credit for everyone, but Barnes went to Buzz Braman to learn to shoot after he had spent 7-8 years with Gus and still couldn’t shoot. And, Gus is going to have to fight David Thorpe for credit on K-Mart’s development.

    The Bee loves to pump Gus, like last year when Marty McNeal talked about Gerry McNamara coming to train with him. But, it never says anything when G-Mac doesn’t get drafted, goes to Europe and doesn’t play at all and ends up coming off the bench in the D-League.

    I was out with a Sacramento HS coach last night and we laughed that the inevitable Jameel Pugh story is up coming in the Bee. Every year, the Bee writes about Pugh working with Gus. Every year, the article says he only needs a consistent jump shot to make the League. And, every year, he fails to develop a jumper. Maybe he’s lazy. I don’t know. But, they’ve written the same article for five straight years.

  6. Eric-
    Awesome interview! I love it when dudes open up like Beta Dog did and really get into various NBA experiences. The info about Mo Cheeks – damn!…

  7. To everyone:

    I’ll argue with no one about who is responsible for Kevin’s development. I don’t know Gus, but if he has been most responsible for Kevin’s incredible progress, then I think that’s great. It’s not about me, but about the player and his improvement. I hope Gus continues to work with young players, Kevin and Matt included, for years to come.

    Coach Thorpe

  8. B, iam not fighting for anything, all we do is help players get better.Coach Thorpe and i work with lots of players we dont need credit do you?Ask the players i work with about what i do.Kmart is part of what we do every summer help players get better.

  9. B,
    Guss Armstead is anything but an impostor. I have known Gus for over a decade and personally know the dedication he provides players for there improvement each and every year. The core of this article was on Matt Barnes yet challenging one’s legitimacy is baseless. I could easily write a story on Guss and attain player testimony that my large readership would thoroughly enjoy. The NBA list of player’s, front office personnel, and agents would resemble a who’s who of NBA stalwarts.

    Don’t believe me…Check it out!!!

    http://www.tothehoop.com

  10. B–The article is about Matt Barnes. When I signed Matt, I told him all he needed to do was work on his shooting and he would be a huge success. So, you know what Matt did. He worked on his shooting night and day, day and night. And Guss helped him, as did Buzz Braman. No one is taking credit for Matt Barnes’s success except Matt Barnes. He did it! Guss Armstead is a helper. He helps put people in position to succeed, as apparently does Coach Thorpe with Kevin Martin. The players deserve the credit. B, I am sorry you are jealous but Guss Armstead helps me with all my players and he does a great job. As for GMac, unfortunately, Gerry could only spend 4 days with Guss because of workouts. Injuries prevented Gerry from being drafted. As for not starting in the D League, check your facts again. He started the majority of the games he played there. Now that Gerry is healthy, which is why we sent him to a situation in Greece, we shall see how he does. But not for a minute should a coach take credit for a player. Matt Barnes has done it and he has done it so well. I am so happy that people like Guss Armstead are around to help him in anything he needs. B, I hope you can find good players, approach this business positively like Guss and you may have the success Guss has had. Bill Neff

  11. B…Leave the HATORADE ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Guss gets it done day in and day out. Maybe you should come to the gym and take notes. Players like Matt, Bobby Jackson, Mike Wilkes, Kevin Martin and a list of other successful players come to Sac just to work with Guss as his reputation speaks for itself! I find it hard to believe anyone in the basketball business would look at him as an imposter. It is comments like the ones you made that don’t allow people to collabarate and provide a positive environment for todays young players. Guss has been called the GURU for years and there is reason for it….HATORADE TAKES AWAY GATORADE REPLENISHES!!!!

  12. WOW Another Great article thank you, for your insight and perspective. You offered a pragmatic approach and a voice of reason in your Inaugural Mock Draft article. Strong opinion backed up with reasonable facts makes for compelling reading in your Matt Barns article.

    I’m afraid, your tenacious research and candid insights have spoiled me for life. As good as your peers may be I don’t see any of them offering the level of excellence that I have consistently seen when viewing your articles, blogs…. I always appreciated the fact that you provided an honest evaluation of what you viewed and perceived… I cannot believe the way some of the people responded to your articles, blogs…

    I am looking forward to the next master piece

  13. Hey if it makes you feel better to knock a great guy like Guss down then go ahead. I work out with Guss every summer so I know what goes on in the gym , who is there, and who does what and how hard people go. Everyone who goes there works hard because they are grateful for the gift they wre given to play basketball professionally. And if you were to ask Guss he would never even “take credit” for helping any of us get better because he isn’t about that. But I will say this: All of us who come out of there become better people for just working out with Guss. He motivates you to want to get better not only as a player but a person. B, I think you are mad because if there were more people like Guss in the world there would be less people like you. He has helped alot of us in our goals to play pro ball and support our families. He teaches us it’s not WHERE you are (NBA, NBADL, overseas) it’s WHO you are. When we walk into the gym, we are all equals, no one gets more calls or attention then the next guy and we all benefit from the team atmosphere there. We leave our egos at the door. Even IF Guss were the worst basketball instructor in the world (which he isn’t by any means) he is a great guy, role model, and leader which many of us look up to. His responsibilities are many, but his thanks are few. So I want to say thanks to him. Not because he would even want me (or any of us) to, but because he deserves it.

  14. B
    For some reason you have a problem with Guss when nobody else does. Guss is more than a trainer and for those who know and respect him as a real human (not as and imposter. Guss is like a father to all that walks through the gym door, he is a remarkable person who helps young men and women become adults. Guss has helped me and others in basketball but also how to be a postive role model for our youth today. Guss has a gift that many only wish they had that is why people like yourself have bad things to say about someone you dont even know. If there was just one more Guss around we would be lucky, I speak for others also when I say this that we are lucky to have the one and only Guss Armstead in Sacramento.

  15. B- My suggestion to you, is that you make a formal apology to Guss Armstead. I don’t know you from a hole in the ground, but neither do you know Guss. Guss, is a wonderful husband, and a father to 4 wonderful children. Additionally, Guss is a pastor and selflessly gives to his congregation. I know this because I am the Executive Pastor at the church where he serves. Moreover, Guss, treats his clients with the same selfless attitude that he extends to the people of his congregation. His clients, both male and female, love him because he thinks of them before he thinks of himself. I know this, because Guss has allowed me the privilege of assisting him with some of his workouts and coaching one of his high school level girls teams. As DJ said, Guss doesn’t just make kids into better players, he makes them into better people. And as Eric said, the list of players that he has helped, reads as a veritable who’s who, of college, and professional, male and female players. Never scream, when you should remain silent. Your assertions were baseless. Please consider an apology.

  16. To attack the credibility of a positive individual is weak! I do not know the extent of the relationship of Gus Armstead and Matt Barnes, but using my 15 year professional relationship as an example, I know that Gus would have had a positive impact on Mr. Barnes.
    First and foremost the credit belongs to Mr. Barnes. We all have a gift! We all have a gift that we are blessed with from day one. 90% of us never find that gift. Only about 8% of us find that gift. About 2% of us are able to walk out that gift. If you are one of the 2% that do, you are able to impact the world in a positive way.
    Tearing down is sometimes necessary, but only when rebuilding something better. Gus helps to build better. Better Players. Better Men. Better Christians. Ask yourself what you are building? Not only what you are attempting to discredit or tear down! Keep doing what you do Mr. Armstead.
    Leaders-Lead! Haters-Hate! Only one makes a real difference. Which one are You?

  17. I am going to be a little less professional in my thoughts after reading the comments about my brother Gus. Gus is a good christian man who represents all that is right with how a black man should carry himself. However I, am still struggling in my approach to be “like Guss”, which brings me to this, HOW IN THE HELL could you beat a brother down like that, those comments were BS my man. I have worked with numereous players who happen to just be in a league called the NBA, I have scouted a lot of players that Guss and Bill Neff are PERSONALLY responsible for. Even though Guss will not take credit for Matt or any of the many playerS HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR, I will tell you Hell yes Guss has alot to do with Matt being where he is, and the thing you do not understand that Matt was always physically ready to play in the league, but was not going to get there until he changed his mental approach to the game my man. That is where Guss Armstead, Bill Neff, ABA Coach Earl Cureton had an effect on Matt teaching him how to be a pro. You are entitled to your opinion, but it is totally wrong and you know it. I think I know something about this situation, I worked scouted for the team who drafted Matt Barnes in that league they call the NBA.

  18. Did anyone get Mo Cheeks’ version of what went down with Matt Barnes? Seems a little one-sided to me…Mo Cheeks was one of the more mentally tough players in the league during his era. Does anyone think that Matt Barnes was maybe not used to being NOT coddled? I mean – this is the NBA!!! Let’s not be quick to pin his issues all on Cheeks.

  19. I think Matt Barnes has great potential to become an basketball star. He is fast, quick, and agile when he shoots and passes. I love how he passes the ball to his teammates, tricking the opponent into thinking he was bringing the ball to him with the hoop. Matt Barnes has the perfect basketball player body. At 6’7″, he is taller than most of his teammates yet muscular and fit. I love Matt Barnes and I wish him the best of luck in his career! I’m so glad you didn’t switch to the NFL!!!

  20. A follow up to the Matt Barnes story. Matt made a decision to fire his agent last week. I wonder if BLOG #6 had abything to do with that? I doubt it. Here is my problem, a lot of brothers in that league they call the NBA, have people in there backgrounds working their ass of to help them get there. They experience some success and then other agents get into their ears and reap the reward that should have been afforded to the people that were there when you had no damn where to go, and was thinking about quitting. Matt you can do whatever in the hell you want to do, but that was a totally dis-loyal move my young and impressionable brother. Question what in the hell did Fegan do that Neff or Guss didnt do in getting your ass in the NBA, because if my memory serves me correct. Fegan was nowhere in sight in the days I was in the gym in Sacramento. He was nowhere in sight when I scouted you at UCLA, he was nowhere in sight when the night I cursed your ass out in Provo, Utah and you took it like a man, but now when there is financial gain added to the equation, this dude shows up and you listen. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! Matt there is something to be said for loyalty. You know what, there is something to be said for lack of loyalty as well. I guess you made your statement.

    Somebody make sure Matt reads this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Nice post, bro. It’s too bad Barnes was dubbed the NBA’s biggest “flopper” by themelobackpedal. He’s going to get a nice contract in the offseason.

  22. matt barnes is wassup. He plays all of his positions very well, and I will never forget the dunk on Nowitzki(however you spell it)! hope you stay in the bay!!!!!!! Oh ya I think your cute!!!

  23. first off i LOVE matt barnes and im real happy he came to tha bay! He’s bomb at basketball and oh so fine especially w/ his mohawk. it pisses me off to kno that mo cheeks almost ended his career… but its wutever now cuz hes on tha warriors and to me one of the best ballers out there.Fa get tha haters…. dont care what any one says cuz bout matt barnes and ill always be his numba 1 fan!

  24. Philly is getting slandered all over the NBA. I don’t see a great future for them. But my friend plays for them maybe he should think about leaving. I think they need to purge their staff.

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