Player Matt Barnes punched calls him "immature"
No one would really expect anyone to dish out a compliment toward someone who took a swing to his or her face. So it's not entirely surprising Dillon Sabia would not have anything nice to say about Lakers forward Matt Barnes, who earned a one-game suspension from the San Francisco Pro-Am summer league after delivering a punch during a game.
"He was pretty mad the whole game, being a little whiner and being really immature," Sabia told the Marin Independent Journal.
"Everybody out there is either playing professionally overseas or playing college ball. Everybody's out there for a reason," Sabia said. "There's no need for him to be, like, all pissing and moaning and being immature about a situation."
Barnes, who has declined comment on the incident and suspension through a representative, still told ESPN.com's Diamond Leung the chippiness started when Sabia "elbowed me and pushed me." Meanwhile, Sabia has said tensions escalated when he boxed Barnes out, leading Barnes to push him.
There's really no use in getting into the who's right and who's wrong debate because there's no clear video evidence on exactly what went down and a fight at a summer league game shouldn't happen for any reasons.
But after reading the various reports, I couldn't help but remember how Lakers fans perceived Barnes differently when he played on the Orlando Magic in the 2009-10 season and went to great lengths in hopes of rattling Kobe Bryant, including pretending to throw an inbounds pass at his face. At the time, many Lakers fans called Barnes classless, a thug and a no-name player trying to earn his 15 minutes of fame. Once he joined the Lakers, however, many liked Barnes' physical play because it protected his teammates, revealed his effort and rubbed off on everyone else.
This isn't so much a case study on how fickle Lakers fans can be as it is a sign that Barnes' persona hasn't changed one bit. There are times he may go overboard and lose his cool. There are times that his intensity proves to be calculated and necessary. But one thing remains the same: He's a player fans love when he's on their team and a player they despise when he's not.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers forward Matt Barnes goes for a layup ahead of the defensive pressure of New Orleans guard Quincy Pondexter in the second half of a playoff game at Staples Center. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / March 27, 2011