Matt Barnes opens up about infamous ball ‘flinch’ moment with Lakers legend Kobe Bryant
Barnes, who was on the Orlando Magic at the time, was going at it with Bryant and the Lakers. During an inbounds play, Barnes faked a pass and put the ball right in Bryant’s face.
However, the Black Mamba didn’t even flinch.
“One thing about Kobe is he’s obviously physically gifted, but his mental approach to it is second to none,” Barnes said. “He’ll do all kinds of stuff to mentally f**k with you without saying a single word. Grabbing you, elbowing you, cheap shoting you, just doing sneaky veteran s**t that Kobe can get away. I was retaliating most of the time and I would get called, so I came to the point where I’m like, ‘f**k basketball we are about to fight.’
“I just ball faked. The s**t kind of happened by itself. I didn’t realize how close I came to his face or where his face was. I was looking at the play behind him. I was looking for Vince Carter in a back door and it just made NBA history.”
Bryant, the greatest player in Lakers franchise history, was a killer on the court. His mental approach to the game is the stuff of legends, and Barnes found that out the hard way.
Kobe won five championships with the Lakers and was an 18-time All-Star. Bryant and Barnes wound up being teammates in LA and the two remain close to this day.