“Kobe Bryant might have been the only person not to flinch at that”: Matt Barnes on faking the ball right at the 5x NBA champion’s face

Arjun Julka
|Published 07/09/2021

Matt Barnes spoke about the iconic flinch moment he had with Kobe Bryant when he made an appearance as a special guest on the podcast, All The Smoke.

There is no doubt that Kobe Bryant was a legend of the game of basketball. The 18x All-Star was known to have an unmatched competitive drive and work ethic. The Hall of Famer coined the term Mamba mentality that exhibited his relentless drive for the game.

Kobe’s game resembled a lot to that of Michael Jordan, something the Lakers guard never denied. Another skill that the Mamba had picked from his idol was the ability to talk smack to opponents.

In 2010 during a match between the Dallas Mavericks and the LA Lakers, Kobe had one of the most iconic moments in NBA history. During the 3rd quarter of the game, Mavs guard Matt Barnes attempted to make Kobe flinch during an inbound pass.

Barnes would fake the ball right at Kobe’s face, who didn’t bat an eyelid. The Lakers superstar seemed unfazed, with fans terming him as divine.

Also read: “Phil Jackson used private conversations with me to manipulate the media!” Kobe Bryant once made serious allegations against his former head coach

Many years later, when Kobe appeared as a special guest on Barnes’ podcast, the two had a good laugh about the entire incident. Barnes even remarked that the Lakers legend had a habit of getting into the mind of his opposition.

Matt Barnes gets candid about his faking the ball at Kobe Bryant’s face.

While discussing the incident on his podcast, Barnes spoke about the competitiveness during the game. The former Mavs player added how he and Kobe went back and forth during the game.

So the play was crazy because I just literally faked the ball and it wasn’t thought of or anything. I didn’t realize how close it came to your face. So obviously you didn’t move, but then when I saw it after. That sh*t was. Your eyelashes touched that sh*t.

This motherf***er might have been the only person on the planet no to. You just flinch off some regular sh*t. I put the whole basketball in his face after we had really been going through it and he just….


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The Magic ended up winning the game 96-94. However, it was Kobe’s unbelievable flinch moment with Barnes that became the highlight of the match. The Black Mamba was also the highest scorer during the contest with 34-points.

Also read: “Kobe Bryant had a Wu-Tang style to his rap, like RZA and GZA”: Former Lakers teammate explains why the Black Mamba never released his mean rap lyrics on his albums

Consequently, the following season, Barnes signed with the LA Lakers, making him Kobe’s teammate. Barnes would play 2 seasons with the Lakers before signing with arch-rivals Clippers.

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About the author
Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka is a NBA author at The SportsRush. Basketball isn’t just a sport for this 26-year-old, who hails from Mumbai. He began watching the sport after stumbling upon a court in his society, helping him identify an undiscovered passion for the game of hoops. Now an ardent fan, Arjun supports Stephen Curry and the Warriors but also enjoys watching Giannis Antetokounmpo own the paint. When it comes to the GOAT debate, the TSR author feels LeBron James is yet to receive a lot of his due but cannot deny marveling at Michael Jordan’s resume.

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