Matt Barnes to have Del Campo High jersey retired
The NBA lockout is seen by many as an example of greed among professional sports franchises and athletes. So perhaps Matt Barnes' jersey retirement ceremony Wednesday at Del Campo High School in Sacramento will return the Lakers forward to a simpler time.
Barnes had a storied career where he wore the No. 32 in basketball and No. 21 in football in high school, and he contemplated a professional career on the gridiron before accepting a scholarship to play for UCLA's basketball team. He compiled All-American, all-state, all-CIF, all-city and all-league honors during both his prep basketball and football days.
On Wednesday, the jersey retirement, which is scheduled to take place between the women's and men's varsity alumni games, will bring that full circle.
The numbers speak for themselves. Consider his stat line in his junior and senior years on the hardwod (1997-99) in points, (26.5, 30), rebounds (12.5, 10), blocks (5.6, six), assists (5.5, three) and steals (three, five). His numbers on the gridiron were equally impressive during those seasons, in receptions (42, 58), yards (958, 1,112) and touchdowns (17, a nation-leading 28).
Barnes' football experience remains apparent in numerous ways. He often notes that he possesses a football player's mentality on the court, with his aggressiveness, quick instincts and physical play.
After experiencing frustrations as an NBA journeyman at the beginning of his now-eight-year career, Barnes contemplated football and in 2006 received seven or eight invitations to try out for NFL teams. He remains in touch with his older brother, Jason, who plays in the Canadian Football League. He also often opines on NFL-related news via Twitter.
And for at least a brief moment on Wednesday, Barnes will be reminded of how he managed to excel in both sports.
*We will have a live chat at 2 p.m. today. Bring your questions!
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers forward Matt Barnes. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times