In the summer of 2010, LeBron James had just signed with the Miami Heat and was set to take on Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. However, the Lakers were unable to sign a role player who would have been able to help them win games. Instead of signing with the Lakers, he chose to sign with the Phoenix Suns.
Kobe Bryant’s 1 Phone Call Kept a Notable NBA Role Player From Joining LeBron James on the Miami Heat and Persuaded Them to Sign With the Lakers Instead. Read more in detail here: how many rings does kobe have.
The NBA season 2010-11 was an intriguing one. The Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant were the league’s reigning champions, and the Boston Celtics had been the Eastern Conference’s team to beat. However, a new team was on the rise, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh becoming the Miami Heat’s Big Three.
With so many stars flocking to Miami that year, a number of veterans joined the Heat in the hopes of winning a championship. Former Heat role player Matt Barnes was one among the guys the Heat failed to sign. Barnes reportedly said that he believed he was on his way to Miami until he received a call from that year’s Finals MVP, Kobe Bryant.
Matt Barnes has established himself as a valuable NBA role player.
On Jan. 18, 2010, Matt Barnes of the Orlando Magic plays against the Los Angeles Lakers. | Getty Images/Lisa Blumenfeld
Barnes had already established himself as a valuable role player in the NBA before to the 2010-11 season.
Barnes only appeared in 137 games for four different teams in his first three seasons, averaging only 3.7 points per game, but he eventually found success in 2006-07 with the Golden State Warriors.
That year, he improved his statistics significantly, averaging 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. However, the UCLA product enjoyed one of his finest seasons of his career with the Phoenix Suns in 2008-09, averaging 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Barnes subsequently spent 2009-10 with the Orlando Magic, but for the 2010-11 season, he had the option of joining one of the NBA’s elite teams: the Heat or the Lakers.
Barnes was approached by Pat Riley about joining the Heat.
On Sept. 27, 2019, Miami Heat President Pat Riley held an introduction press conference for Jimmy Butler. | Getty Images/Michael Reaves
Following the 2009-10 season, Pat Riley, the president of the Miami Heat, approached the 2002 second-round selection about joining the team. Riley was on the verge of signing Chris Bosh and LeBron James, as well as Dwyane Wade, to create a Big Three.
Barnes reminisced on the Oct. 5 edition of No Chill With Gilbert Arenas, “‘Our crunch-time lineup can be you, LeBron, D-Wade, Bosh, and Mike Miller, and we’re going to win some championships.” “So, I’m thinking… I’ll simply travel to Miami,” she says.
Barnes might have been an excellent addition to the Heat’s roster. He was a capable role player who might have provided a seasoned presence to the team.
However, a phone call from Kobe Bryant turned things around.
Matt Barnes chose the Lakers over LeBron James and the Heat after receiving a call from Kobe Bryant.
On December 25, 2010, LeBron James (left) of the Miami Heat and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers exchange words. Getty Images/Victor Decolongon
Barnes’ friendship with Bryant dates back to his undergraduate days, when he was a member of the UCLA Bruins and Kobe was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. However, after he was in the NBA, some fans remembered him as the player who memorably tried a ball-fake in the face of a future Hall of Famer.
Barnes stated on No Chill With Gilbert Arenas, “Anyone that plays Kobe knows he’s nasty as f***.” “He grabs you, elbows you, yells s***, does anything, but no one ever calls him a foul….” But that was all part of the mental warfare he enjoyed waging against you.”
Barnes claimed he was angry during the game when he tried the fake because Bryant had banged him up so badly that night.
Barnes stated, “Literally, my… arms just performed [the ball fake] by themselves; I wanted to smash that s*** in his face.”
However, his signing with the Lakers may have been influenced by the transfer.
“I receive a call from a number I don’t recognize… ‘It’s Kob,’ and ‘It’s Kob,’” Barnes remembered a conversation he had with Bryant over the summer. “I’m simply like, ‘Yeah right, who’s this?’” says the narrator. ‘Nah, this is Kob for real,’ he says. ‘What?’ I exclaimed. ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Anyone insane enough to f*** with me is crazy enough to play with me,’ he said. ‘Would you want to be a Laker?’
Barnes then said that it was a no-brainer for him since he grew up in California; he joined the Lakers four days later.
For two seasons, Matt Barnes and Kobe Bryant were teammates with the Lakers.
Barnes may have had a better chance if he had joined with Miami. In 2011-12 and 2012-13, LeBron James and the Miami Heat reached the Finals four times in a row and won two titles in a row. Despite this, the 6-foot-7-inch big performed well with Bryant on the Lakers.
In 2010-11, he averaged 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds for the Lakers, followed by 7.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in 2011-12.
But it was his tight connection with Bryant that he benefited the most from his time with the Lake Show.
“We were both going through things in our personal lives during that first season, so we really, truly connected,” Barnes recalled. “… We were constantly out and about doing s*** and really kicking it, talking about our kids, life, career, family, and all that sort of nonsense. As a result, we transitioned from rivals to teammates to brothers.”
Barnes may have given up the opportunity to play alongside an NBA All-Star on an all-time great team in LeBron James and the Miami Heat. However, he went on to play with another GOAT and eventually departed the Lakers with a good buddy.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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