Matt Barnes has given his side of the story about the events leading up to his physical altercation with Knicks head coach Derek Fisher at Barnes’s estranged wife’s California home last weekend.
Barnes offered new details in a phone interview with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, which she shared on Twitter afterward.
The Grizzlies forward, 35, said he was in Marina Del Rey, an oceanside community in Los Angeles county, when he received a text from his six-year-old son, Carter, that concerned him. Barnes is the father of twin boys with Gloria Govan, who has reportedly been seeing Fisher for several months. Barnes and Fisher were teammates on the Lakers in 2011.
Barnes, said he then FaceTimed Carter to check on him, as the two boys were staying with Govan. Barnes, who spent 2011–15 with the Lakers and Clippers and still calls the Los Angeles area home, clarified that he and Govan live about 15 minutes away from each other, in response to reports that he drove 95 miles to fight Fisher. He said that he, Govan and their two sons had driven from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles together earlier that day after Barnes completed training camp with the Grizzlies, who were training in the area.
“I'm like, ‘first of all, why are you still up? It’s like 10 o’clock at night?’” Barnes told ESPN. “So I text back, ‘I love you and I miss you, too.’ Then I FaceTimed him. I’m just like, “Hey, what’s up buddy?’”
Barnes said Carter is the more rambunctious of his two sons, and that after seeing his face over the phone, he “knew something was wrong.”
“I was like, ‘What's wrong, Carter?’ and he shook his head, ‘No,’” Barnes said. “Then he lays his head down on the couch, puts a pillow in front of his face and ‘Mommy's friend Derek is here.’”
Barnes did not comment on the specifics of the incident between he and Fisher, but said that he went to the house only to check up on his kids. TMZ reported Thursday that Barnes “punched Fisher in the mouth with a closed fist” during the fight at Govan’s home. While Fisher is reportedly considering legal action, TMZ later reported that the Redondo Police Department will not be filing charges.
“I can’t believe people think I was some maniac driving 95 miles and listening to Tupac to go beat somebody up,” Barnes said. “No. I live 15 minutes away and I was going over to check on my kids because they seemed uncomfortable. That was my main reason for going over there.”
Barnes took questions from reporters Thursday, largely declining to comment on details. “We were good friends at one point,” he said of Fisher.
- Jeremy Woo