Matt Barnes insists upcoming court date on domestic violence charge won't have negative affect with team
Matt Barnes slipped on his No. 9 Lakers jersey and couldn't resist staring at himself in the locker-room mirror.
The Northern California native had always envisioned this day as a kid idolizing the Lakers' "Showtime" teams, and now this was it. After essentially accepting a pay cut this off-season for a two-year deal worth $3.6 million, the dream has become cemented in reality. He's frequently traded texts with Kobe Bryant. He talked at media day with former Laker/TV analyst James Worthy. And, if all goes according to plan, Barnes will serve, as he calls it, "just a small piece in winning No. 3."
"My dream as a child was to play for UCLA and to play for the Lakers," said Barnes, a former Bruins standout (1998-2002) who equated playing for the Lakers as exciting as a Christmas morning. "The dream has come full circle now. I'm in the midst of back-to-back championships going for No. 3. Life couldn't be better."
Actually it could. Barnes was arrested this month on suspicion of domestic violence against his fiancée and reality TV star, Gloria Govan, and for allegedly obstructing the use of a telephone line. Barnes has maintained his innocence and Govan said Barnes never abused her. Their court hearing, nonetheless, is scheduled for Oct. 18, which is sandwiched by preseason games on Oct. 16, 17 and 19.
"It won't affect my play at all, or with missing any kind of games," said Barnes who joined his eighth team this off-season. "My date has been set on the 18th of next month. We'll find out what's going on then. But we've been cooperating and everything should be fine."
Asked what the team reaction entailed, Barnes said simply, "They just wanted to know if I was going to go to Europe" with the Lakers, who play Oct. 4 against Minnesota in London and Oct. 7 against FC Barcelona in Spain. "I told them I'll be there."
Clearing up his legal situation and any details surrounding his home life should serve as the top priority. But there's also basketball-related items he wants to address so the Lakers continue to welcome him with open arms. Though he's studied the triangle offense enough to notice "a lot of cuts are available in this offense," he acknowledged it has proved challenging to understand. He wants to talk things over with Lakers Coach Phil Jackson so he's fully aware of what's expected, though he assumes he's been brought in to help on defense and add a spark on offense. And he's curious how he'll fit in with a veteran and experienced-laden team.
But there's already signs that make Barnes feeling comfortable. In addition to returning to his home state and playing for the team he grew up following, Barnes believes Bryant's intense exterior in practice has already rubbed off. He expresses giddiness over playing alongside Bryant and Ron Artest, which he predicts is "going to be trouble and there's going to be problems" for opponents. This certainly pales to his off-court situation, but that didn't sour his infectious enthusiasm with fulfilling his life-long dream.
"It's come full circle," Barnes said. "I've had a tough road to get here. But I'm very happy to be here and I'm definitely going to make the most of this."
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