The odd, over-the-top saga of Matt Barnes, Gloria Govan, and Derek Fisher became the topic du jour of social media after it was reported that Fisher, the head coach of the New York Knicks, and Memphis Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes were in a brawl at a party in Los Angeles. Barnes reportedly drove 95 miles to “beat the shit out of” Fisher after he’d heard his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate was spending some time with Barnes’s estranged wife—Govan of Basketball Wives L.A. fame.
The New York Post shared some of the details surrounding the altercation, which occurred after Barnes’s 6-year-old twin sons apparently told their father that Fisher was at his house with Govan. They were reportedly gathered in the backyard having a bonfire. Fisher and Govan have been dating for a few months since the coach filed for divorce from his wife, Candace, back in March.
“Barnes was in Santa Barbara [at Memphis Grizzlies training camp] and heard that Fisher was in his house. He went crazy. He got in his car and went to the house and went after Fisher,” one source reportedly said. “Matt then drove down there to beat the shit out of him.” The source also claimed that Barnes sent a text shortly after the altercation with Fisher that read: “I kicked his ass from the back yard to the front room, and spit in her face.”
Social media immediately pounced on the story, with memes and gifs skewering the absurdity of Barnes’s behavior and the questionable judgment of Fisher. But this is serious. Reacting to the news that another man is at your house with your estranged wife doesn’t have to include an extended drive and risking a possible assault charge. For what it’s worth, sources claim Fisher won’t be pressing charges. Barnes’s reaction wasn’t just over-the-top, if the claims are true, he’s a guy who’s clearly got trouble controlling himself and given his history with Govan, that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In an unfortunate but noteworthy coincidence, this incident happened on the same day that another famous NBA altercation was being revisited in the media. Former Washington Wizards star Caron Butler released an excerpt from his memoir Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA recalling the infamous 2009 incident involving former teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, who drew guns on each other in the Wizards locker room after a fight over a card game. The incident forever tainted the former All-Star Arenas and ended Crittenton’s career—which subsequently served as a prelude to him pleading guilty to manslaughter in 2015. Crittenton was sentenced to 23 years in prison for killing a 22-year-old mother in Atlanta while attempting to shoot a man who he believed had robbed him. Sometimes crazy stories involving athletes and other celebrities are just water cooler fodder; sometimes they reveal deep-seated issues that could have serious consequences if left unchecked.
I cracked jokes after hearing this Fisher-Barnes story, but Matt Barnes sounds like a guy who we really shouldn’t be laughing at right now. If this source’s account is true, that means Barnes is volatile enough to drive for 95 miles to beat someone up and reckless enough to immediately text someone about it in detail.
Barnes was arrested in 2010 on suspicion of domestic violence after police responded to an incomplete 911 call and saw visible injuries on him and a then-unnamed woman later confirmed to be Govan. The Basketball Wives star later issued a statement through her publicist denying Barnes had abused her.
“This is a situation that has been blown out of proportion,” Govan said. “Any accusations of domestic violence are false. My fiancé, Matt Barnes, has never physically abused me or my family.”
In 2011, a statement was issued from Barnes announcing that the couple was separating. “I’d like to address the rumors surrounding mine and Gloria’s relationship. We have reached the difficult decision of ending our relationship and will be going our separate ways at this time. We will work together to raise our sons and wish each other only the best.”
Nonetheless, the two reconciled and married in 2012. That same year, Barnes was arrested on an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license, and was also charged with a felony for resisting an executive officer after he allegedly threatened the officer.
Last May, Barnes was fined $50,000 by the NBA for taunting the mother of James Harden in the stands. It’s unknown what exactly Barnes said, but Harden, who was playing for the opposing Houston Rockets, responded, “Any situation where you’re talking about somebody’s parents, that’s just disrespectful.”
Meanwhile, Barnes didn’t seem all that contrite in the immediate aftermath.
“What’s crazy is that they can say anything and everything—to our kids, to our wives, anything,” Barnes said. “And we say one thing and they run and tell and the next thing I know I’m probably going to get fined $25,000. I think I heard DJ [DeAndre Jordan] and D-Wade [Dwyane Wade] say it before, we’re human too. But they can take and prod us like animals in a cage and run and tell when we respond. So if you don’t want anything said to you, don’t say nothing to begin with.”
And in August, after Barnes claimed to be dating the pop superstar Rihanna, the “BBHMM” singer put him on blast on Instagram, claiming she’s never even met him and accusing him of “defamation of character.”
Now as for the Fisher incident, whether or not anyone believes Barnes had a right to be jealous of another man spending time with his estranged wife at the house they used to share, what shouldn’t be disputed is that the way he dealt with the situation was totally uncalled for. Govan would be well within right and reason to seek a restraining order, as sources have claimed, against a man who would spit in her face. And the rest of us should probably not laugh so hard at an NBA “Bad Boy” who loses his temper like this. Gloria Govan should get that restraining order. And Matt Barnes should seek help.