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Matt Barnes to wear mohawk during playoffs in honor of his mother

60808162Sitting down in a chair in the middle of his dining room, plenty of images greeted Lakers forward Matt Barnes within eyesight.

A plasma television hung on his wall featuring Game 1 of the Orlando Magic-Atlanta Hawks first-round series. A half a dozen boxes lay in his living room featuring black-and-white "Killah B's" T-Shirts he's individually sold and shipped through his brand, Elusion Clothing. To his right stood the entrance to his Palos Verdes home that oversees the Pacific Ocean.

But what kept Barnes' attention Saturday evening, a day before the opener of the Lakers' first-round series with the Hornets, weren't any of those images. Instead he kept staring at the red bracelet around his right wrist, the symbolic image of why he has had his friend, Demorea "Truck" Evans, buzz his hair into a mohawk before the NBA playoffs the last four years. His mother's name, Ann, is written in white between two hearts. As Barnes stared at it, he reacted in a way that hardly jibes with his on-court persona as a scrappy forward that mixes it up with opposing players, fights for loose balls and provides consistent energy off the bench.

His eyes teared up.

Barnes lost his mother on Nov. 27, 2007, only 26 days after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. It had also only been seven months since Barnes had made a bold proclamation to former teammates Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson with the Golden State Warriors that he'd shave his head into a mohawk should they make the playoffs, a hairdo Barnes says his mother instantly embraced.

Matt Barnes

"I miss my mom," Barnes said. "But getting the haircut and thinking about the whole playoff experience and thinking how much she was a part of that playoff experience for 2007, it saddens me. But at the same time, I know she's not in pain anymore. I know she's looking down on me and I know she's excited for what I'm about to embark on."

That involves returning to the court after missing the last two regular-season games because of increased soreness in his surgically repaired right knee. As Evans began cutting Barnes' hair -- a 'do he expected would prompt ribbing from Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom -- his right knee was wrapped and attached to a compression machine that helps reduce the pain, swelling, tissue damage and muscle spasms by instantly freezing water into ice. Barnes has worn the device three to four times a day for 30 minutes each session ever since tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee nearly four months ago. But that's not the only thing he's doing to get ready for the playoffs.

Despite having a heavily loaded Saturday that consisted of a three-hour practice, acupuncture treatment and physical therapy, Barnes squeezed in an hour early Saturday evening to make sure he got his haircut.

"The mohawk may just mean a haircut to some people, but it means so much more to Matt," said fiancee and reality-TV star, Gloria Govan, who's also the mother of Barnes' two sons, Isaiah Michael and Carter Kelly. "It shows how far he's come in his career and how far the season is with the playoffs and importance. It's more than a haircut and attitude."

Gloria Govan

It's also a way to honor his mother, which is why Barnes started a foundation in 2008 called Athletes vs. Cancer, which Govan said has raised $225,000 in providing local screening programs. The initiative has paved the way for Barnes to help an unnamed high school friend get $6,000 worth of initial treatment for his throat cancer and for meeting a fan with brain cancer who later died and was buried with Barnes' autographed jersey. It's also paved the way for him to sell T-shirts titled "If cancer couldn't beat me, what makes you think you can?"

When Evans and Barnes met shortly before Barnes' mother died, the two formed an instant bond because Evans' mother, Jean George, had died of breast cancer on Nov. 5, 2005. That's why observing the anniversaries of their respective mothers' passing and rituals such as cutting Barnes' hair for the playoffs serve as a therapeutic exercise for both. It's so important for Evans, a minister at Word Assembly Baptist Church in Oakland, that he flew into Los Angeles to cut Barnes' hair on Saturday.

"It brought us together," Evans said. "It was an ugly way to come together, but I gained a good buddy. It's an ugly fraternity but the outcome is always good throughout the process."

To help with that process, Barnes keeps a picture in his living room of him and his mother during the 2007 playoffs. The photo combines many interweaving story lines during that moment. It marked Golden State's first-round upset against Dallas where Barnes posted 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the deciding sixth game, inspiring some Warrior fans to adopt Barnes' mohawk. It marked one of Barnes' first dates with Govan, who was initially repulsed by the mohawk but now finds the haircut "sexy." And it of course established a tradition in which Barnes sported the hairdo last season with the Orlando Magic all the way to the Eastern Conference finals and, Barnes hopes, a finals appearance with the Lakers. 

"It makes me smile more when I think about the haircut," Barnes said. "She loved the haircut and was a part of that experience with us. Her dying shortly after, it was one of her fondest memories of me playing so it makes me smile a lot more."

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers forward Matt Barnes will be sporting a mohawk during the NBA playoffs. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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"The incredible nature of what [Phil Jackson's] done I don't think has really sunk in on people," said Popovich, who has had plenty of playoff battles against Jackson as coach of the San Antonio Spurs. "To win three in a row as many times as he's done . . . we've tried 90 times and can't win a second one in a row. For him to do that with two different teams is just beyond my comprehension.

"And that's not blowing smoke. I don't know Phil. We don't go out and have beers. I've never been in a situation where I've gotten to know him. I just see him from afar and see what he's done.

"It's absolutely incredible to me, that kind of winning, that kind of pressure, that kind of persistence, year after year after year to get those wins."

"I used to always think Michael was first and Kobe was second," Oklahoma City Coach Scott Brooks said.

"Then I moved to 1A and 1B. Now I'm not so sure who's 1A and 1B."

Let the Phil and Kobe show begin.


Trying it today without sedatives.

I hate these early Sunday games as our team rarely shows up! Get the smelling salts ready for Pau.....& the ambulance ready for me!

Anyway, breakfast is ready, and I am skipping church to help with sound engineering setup at a local concert, then Laker game in full rooting gear!

I hope they watched the Pacers game on TiVo so they can see what can happen when a lower rated team has nothing to lose!!!

SORRY crue...The roll call I posted was 0-5...and when I didn't post it for the last 2 games, we won...hmmm...

So if someone else would do the honors...we can get this playoffs started...

Checking in for game day...LEWSTRS present and accounted for...

Time to manhandle the Hornets and sweep this team and put them out of their misery...

Lakers Dynaty - The Next Generation...

#17 Coming Up!!!

Feeling you Matt, I share the grief and the fight against this disease. My father also died with lung cancer many years ago and to this day it still around menacing a lot of families.

Go Lakers show them the way, the road to three-peat starts today.

As a request of Rdlee, will somebody please post the roll call and prayer.

PS. Will meet LakerTom at the Pantry Cafe at 10 am, anybody around who will be available please drop by.

Posted by: Edwin Gueco | April 17, 2011 at 08:29 AM

So you know this blog is not your personal message board but a Lakers blog. Who you meet and where you meet is your personal business. If you are going to make your personal life public then be prepared for ridicule.

Pantry Cafe if a dirty place, roaches running around!

Matty.......Will be thinking of you today and am sure your Mom is with you in spirit and loving your mohawk!! My Mom died when I was young too, and it is very hard, especially when you would like some advice that only a Mother can give. Just think of Laker Nation as your family and it will give you a big boost for the playoffs. Go Laker's!!
@Mamba24.....Okay is time to come back and start sharing your Lakerholic enthusium as ONLY YOU know how to do. I'm sure I speak for a lot of people on the blog, WE WANT YOU BACK!! NOW, PRONTO,ASAP!!!! Lakers's go for their 17th title. Do hope we play the SEPTIC'S. LOVE to beat those guys!

iheart, Laker Tom and Edwin...I'm jealous...we almost went there to the Pantry last time iheart came for the Portland game, but we went to Chinatown instead...

You guys have a great breakfast, and Laker Tom and iheart, way to represent and have a fantastic time...

Pareng Edwin - maybe we can have lunch at Manila Sunset next time I'm in town...I will be in LA around 5/10...

Go Lakers!!!

"SORRY crue...The roll call I posted was 0-5...and when I didn't post it for the last 2 games, we won...hmmm...

So if someone else would do the honors...we can get this playoffs started...

Posted by: LEWSTRS | April 17, 2011 at 08:25 AM

@LEWSTRS: As a former athlete, we all recognise various superstitions and pattern that drive our play and rooting experience, so I honor your pattern recognition attempt to gain the best karma possible!

Maybe the LATimes blog gods would allow a single post on each game day that was titled simply "Game Day, Roll Call" and allow us to each sign in on that specific post to recognise those of us actually around for the comradarie.

GREAT FRIGGIN IDEA NuggetsCountry...

MM I second the motion...

Chris Paul is going to get his. The Lakers have to pay particular attention to Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack. Both men are highly competitive players who give the Lakers fits. On paper, certainly the matchup favors the Lakers, but they need to take care of business and not exhibit the complacency that has been so emblematic of their season.

17 IN '11!!!

Mornin' CRUE!!

Well finally - the first game day of the PO's arrives. Are we ready?? Are the Lakers ready?? I'm saying HELL YEAH.

NuggetsCountry - AWESOME idea. I 3rd the motion.

MM - I could never hate you. Unless you don't follow through with what I asked you to do for me. Then all bets are off.

Jon K!!! You didn't die!!! WOO HOOO!!!

Snake - je pense que Kobe peut parle francais. Mais je ne sais pas....

888 - thanks for those quotes about PJ and Kobe. Very cool. And very true.

mclyne - forgot to thank you for the welcome back. Thanks, man. I'll be around depending on.. well... you know.... but thanks.

Alright - Lakers PO basketball. The Friedman Season needs to finish up on a high note. #17 here we come!!


My heart goes out to Matty. I lost my dad to cancer and it ain't pretty.

Sport that mohawk Matty. I hate the haircut but I love the symbolism in your case. Kick butt - you got our support, respect and appreciation.

I lost both my parents to lung cancer, so I have never smoked.............anything.............. Hoping beyond hope that the non-smoking will give me an extension past my heritage history.

And is it too much to ask to have 48 minutes of good effort from this team!? That would extend my life to a great extent! ;-)

It's not justanother game day - it's
*** PLAYOFF GAME DAY ***!!!!

The first to 16 wins to reach a goal of 17. Here in the blog, we have dedicated this championship run to Rick F.

As he said, Let's go Lakers!

So, everybody up - clap, scream and start that cheer: LET's GO LAKERS!!

Cheers all - PLG

@Mark M....I would think that one doesn't grow a Mohawk but instead has his hair cut into a Mohawk style. But I guess I'm splitting hairs! (OUCH!!)

Two championship seasons ago, I lost my dad to cancer the same day the Lakers won the championship. I totally understand the symbolism and strength Matt gathers by what he does to prepare.

As he prepares and as I prepare to cheer, I remember my dad for his love of sports. But I also remember the support I had from this Laker family.

So, cheers to you - my blog friends! Let's make this championship run yet another to remember and treasure!


Time to go do some farm chores. Great way to get your mind off this anticipation.

lets go lakers !!!

london is watching and praying got my bros round with the brewskis ice cold cheering on the lakers

where is the roll call ??

16 for 17...go Lakers!!


Thanks for mentioning Rick. I really enjoyed this story. I think Rick would have too. Let's do this one for the Rickster.


My Pop passed from a very short battle with lung cancel August 18, 2008. He was a huge sports fan and my best friend. Had I go I got a mohawk in his honor he would have slapped me across the head with "what's the 'matta with you moron'? He also would have said today GO LAKERS!

The system is working just fine, don't be bitter.

NEW YORK -- The NBA says its three national TV partners all had their most viewers ever this season, topped by a 42 percent increase for TNT.

ABC was up 38 percent and ESPN had a 28 percent jump, the league said Friday.

Turner Sports also says its 1.6 rating was its highest in 27 years of NBA coverage and that it televised three of the five most-watched NBA regular-season games ever on cable this season.

Despite fears of a labor stoppage after the season, the NBA reported success across many platforms. Arena capacity was 90.3 percent, its seventh straight year of 90 or better, and the 17,306 average was up 1 percent from last year and was its fifth highest.'s NBA section experienced significant audience increases this season, including a 36 percent increase in total minutes spent online, a 28 percent climb in daily unique visitors and a 21 percent gain in page views. Additionally, total time spent consuming's NBA regular-season content was up 178 percent over the previous year.

Merchandise sales jumped more than 20 percent and saw an increase of more than 140 percent in video views.

- Game day. FINALLY! The Friedman Threepeat starts TODAY! Let's blow this team out, get the starters some rest in the fourth, and kill any dreams of an upset from the get go.

- The Hornets have a major speed advantage, but they are not a running team. It'll be interesting to see how Monty Williams' decides to attack the Lakers.

- You have to admit that Sonnybelfast might be a persistent troll, but he's got to be the most witty troll here.

SORRY crue...The roll call I posted was 0-5...and when I didn't post it for the last 2 games, we won...hmmm...

So if someone else would do the honors...we can get this playoffs started...

Checking in for game day...LEWSTRS present and accounted for...

Time to manhandle the Hornets and sweep this team and put them out of their misery...

Lakers Dynaty - The Next Generation...

#17 Coming Up!!!

Posted by: LEWSTRS | April 17, 2011 at 08:25 AM

Good man...we appreciate any help we can get. I for one will be on the living room floor curled up with my 14 year old black Shar-Pei "Kobeayashimarue", Kobe for short. He is basically blind, deaf, and his hips are weak, but the nose and plumbing are still working just fine. I'm hoping he has 1 more ring of magic left in him this year, as we watch the games together. I also have my CP voodoo doll and pins just in case! GO LAKERS



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