On Thursday, the NBA fined Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes $25,000 for using inappropriate language on Twitter and failing to leave the court in a timely manner after being ejected following an altercation with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka late in the second quarter Wednesday.
During the third quarter of that game, Barnes tweeted, "I love my teammates like family, but I'm DONE standing up for these n---as! All this s--- does is cost me money." The post was later deleted, and Barnes apologized on Twitter.
In a candid conversation with Bleacher Report, Barnes shared his thoughts on the matter. With his consent, they are presented here from his first-person perspective, edited for clarity and length.
I have gotten into altercations with other guys that I'm friends with or that I'm cool with, and after the game we either shake hands or a phone call would take place. But I don't like Serge Ibaka, so I wouldn't apologize to him. That's just someone I don't like.
But I own up to what I tweeted, and it wasn't right. It was in the heat of the moment, and I really didn't think things fully through. As soon as I sent it, once I started driving home, I'm like, "That's probably not going to be too good."
My situation was really more out of frustration for the simple fact that I think sometimes my situations in basketball get blown out of proportion because of the reputation I've had in the past, and they really don't allow me to turn over a new leaf. I get suspended or I get kicked out of a game for pushing someone. But if I were Kevin Durant or Chris Paul, that wouldn't happen. My tweet was not directed at anyone; it was just directed out of frustration and just spur of the moment, not really thinking clearly.
I think people on Twitter know that I'm real and I speak from the heart most of the time, and sometimes I'm going to make a mistake. People on Twitter want to see real—to let people know that we are just like them, and sometimes we vent, but obviously with our popularity it's on a whole other level. Wednesday night was clearly a mistake, and now it's on every sports show around the country. So I just have to understand that Twitter and all these other social media sites are very powerful in a positive way and sometimes a negative way. I think there's a fine line between being really commercial and kind of saying what you have to say, but then also opening up.
Overall, Twitter has been a great tool for myself and my family as far as promoting our charity and the events we do and really just kind of interacting with our fans. But it can be in the negative form, and guys have to be careful. I just really think it's the society we live in now; we're driven by social media. Every aspect of our lives are somehow involved in social media, and being in L.A. is one of the biggest media markets in the world, so you really have to watch yourself.
The frustrating part about this whole thing is that there are so many good things that athletes and celebrities do, but it's like the majority of writers can't wait for that one bad break. So hypothetically speaking, we could do something good for 29 out of the 30 days of the month, but that one day we do something bad, it's the only day that they talk about.
I'm one of the leading guys in the NBA or in professional sports that's more hands-on with their foundation, and never once has my foundation had a main mention. And I know personally guys that don't have as much to do with their foundations, and they're all over everything. I kind of have a bad-guy reputation. They never really want to shed light on the other good stuff that I am doing. You have to take the good with the bad and just smile at them.
I think they have a different set of rules for me, New York Knicks forward Metta World Peace and a couple of other guys. I think our fines are always blown out of proportion. Everything we do through the media is blown out of proportion. When they said I didn't leave the court in an orderly fashion on Wednesday night, all I did was when I was walking to the locker room, I picked my kids up right behind our bench and walked them to our locker room. It wasn't like I stayed on the court and tried to go at a ref or I was arguing with a fan or anything like that.
Usually 10 out of 10 times, an appeal won't work, but I've done it before. I might consider it this time with Rod Thorn, the league's president of basketball operations. I really want to get a breakdown from talking to my agent and some officials to see exactly how the appeal works. And having Chris Paul as our union president, I'm sure he'll give me a little insight just to kind of see if I have any grounds to appeal or not.
So what's next for social media in the NBA? I heard Knicks coach Mike Woodson's comments on Thursday after J.R. Smith and Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings went back and forth on Twitter, in which the coach said he'd consider instituting a social media policy. It's something that's been talked about, but our teams put the onus on us. We're men. In the heat of the moment, you're not speaking clearly, you're not thinking of the repercussions, you're not thinking about what you're actually breaching when you're trying to vent. You're not just talking to your friends; you're talking to the world.
But before you vent, you need to keep this in mind, now that I've had time to reflect on what happened: Give yourself just a cool-down point because in the heat of the moment, you make a lot of mistakes. If I were to talk to some young players or anybody, I would say just give yourself a little cool-down time. Maybe I should've taken a shower before to calm down a little bit. It was a mistake what I did, and I definitely own up and accept what's happened through my actions.