Two of the NBA’s marquee Western Conference squads faced off last night when the Los Angeles Clippers played host to Oklahoma City. Instead of a highlight of Blake Griffin Mozgov cocktailing a defender or Kevin Durant hitting a Where Amazing Happens buzzer beater, we were left talking about Matt Barnes’ ejection after he shoved Serge Ibaka in defense of Griffin.
Don’t think that just because he’s “tired” of sticking up for teammates, that it will stop anytime soon. If we check Barnes’ greatest hits, he makes no distinction between the NBA’s best or barely there. Kobe Bryant, Jason Terry, NBA coaches, Pro Am coaches; when it comes to potential fades and who should catch them, Barnes hans’t a fuck to give. The image of the league is shifting and with the enforcer all but gone, the fake tough guy’s are flourishing. Dudes who’d rather beef in the tweets than meet you after the game.
J.R. Smith defended his younger brother Chris, after Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings questioned whether the younger Smith truly deserved to be there. Tweets from J.R. insinuated he’d retaliate in ways that involved “shutting Detroit down” and stated that he didn’t have respect for kids that pop on twitter. Which is exactly what Smith resorted to.
Let’s make this clear, this isn’t a suggestion that any adult (pro athlete or not) should use violence to make a point. However, with the era of Charles Oakley, Xavier McDaniel and Vernon Maxwell, true bad asses who you wouldn’t want to see the hands with, it is strange to see this generation of would-be tough guys take to social media to jaw at each other. There’s only so long fake thugs can pretend and hiding behind the bad boy image will encourage others to try their luck. Wearing the tattoos and surfacing up in tabloids might seem cool, but people see the truth.
The Knicks take on the Pistons in Detroit on Tuesday, so we’ll see if this adds another element to the game. Jennings is known for his never back down attitude, something we’ve become accustomed to seeing and most likely won’t waiver. The Knicks newest starter will most likely let a few unwarranted three-balls talk for him, too. Which is how Smith and Jennings should settle their differences. On the court with everyone watching them in their real elements. The best advice for them: Leave the posturing alone and let it fade out with the Barnes and the last of the NBA’s tough guys.