Matt Barnes of the Clippers is the closest thing the NBA has to a hockey enforcer. He starts fights, he ends fights, he threatens owners, and that’s pretty much his game. He’s driven by his doubters, according to a profile in Sports Illustrated, and one of those men was Mo Cheeks when Barnes was a Sixer:
Philly is also where Barnes learned that it’s a star’s league. At the time, he was the 12th man, clinging to a job. As Barnes tells it, he was working with shooting coach Buzz Braman after practice, hoping to smooth out a hitch in his shot, when Sixers head coach Mo Cheeks walked by. “I don’t see why you’re working on your shot,” Cheeks said. “You’re not going to get to shoot here.” Barnes fumed, but said nothing.
A week later, in practice, things came to a head. “I came down on a 3-on-1 and hit pull-up 15-footer off the glass and [Cheeks] stopped practice,” says Barnes. “He yells, ‘What are you doing? What are you shooting the ball for? You know that’s not your job, you gotta pass the ball!’”
Barnes was shocked “What? But I made the shot.”
Said Cheeks: “That’s why you don’t play.’”
And then, Barnes says, he lost it. “I was going to chase him down and whoop his ass, so I took off after him and AI grabbed me and I got through him and Chris [Webber] grabbed me and bearhugged me and I said to Mo, ‘You’re lucky.’”
Says Barnes now: “I hated Mo Cheeks. He was a dick.”
But his time in Philly wasn’t all bad. Barnes said he learned some valuable lessons here. For example, Allen Iverson doesn’t pay attention to how much money he’s throwing around:
One early lesson came from Iverson, his teammate for half a season in Philadelphia. “Allen was the first guy that showed me how NBA players spend money in strip clubs,” Barnes says. “That guy went. HARD. He’d throw so much money, and this was when I was first in the league, that I used to take my foot and scoop the s— under my chair and either re-throw it or put some in my pocket. He’d throw $30,000, $40,000 every time we went. I’m like, ‘You realize what I can do with this money?’”
That really tells you all you need to know about Allen Iverson and explains so much about Matt Barnes.