Matt Barnes comes to Stephen Curry’s defense, claps back at Stephen A. Smith via social media

Mike Battaglino
5 Min Read
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Barnes has clapped back at Stephen A. Smith for the ESPN pundit’s attempt to clarify remarks he made about Stephen Curry related to Draymond Green’s recently ended suspension.


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Matt Barnes and Stephen A. Smith

Green has returned to practice with the Golden State Warriors after sitting out 12 games in a suspension levied by the NBA for his repeated history of unsportsmanlike acts.

In remarks made after being reinstated, Green said he was crushed by Smith saying that Green’s actions and punishment reflected badly on Curry as the leader of the Warriors. Smith also was making the point of how LeBron James would be perceived if something similar happened on the Los Angeles Lakers.

“One thing throughout this process that really hurt me is I turned on the TV screen and Stephen A. Smith was like, ‘Steph is a bad leader, Draymond did X.’ It pissed me off and it crushed me,” Green said on his podcast. “It crushed me because how is Steph enduring being a bad leader? This guy doesn’t give us anything to tear him down about.”

Smith later took to social media to try to say he never said Curry was a bad leader and that him bringing James into his remarks was justified. Smith also had some very harsh words for Warriors head coach Steve Kerr regarding the matter.

“Did you hear me say that Steph Curry was a bad leader?” Smith said. “The answer is no. Draymond Green, that is false. That is not true.

“But Draymond Green, you ain’t the one I’m pissed at. It’s that damn Steve Kerr. Because that man goes in front of microphones and cameras and talk about how disgusted he was that folks was talking about the leadership.

“I give Draymond credit. At least he had the courage to say my name. Cause Draymond has courage. Draymond ain’t duplicitous, and he ain’t passive aggressive. And he doesn’t allude to things. He says what he says and he stands on it, and I respect that. Steve Kerr didn’t do that. Everybody and their mother knew that Steve Kerr was talking about me when he was talking about how disgusted he was that people were questioning Steph Curry’s leadership.

“I didn’t question Steph Curry’s leadership. What I was saying was, if this were LeBron James, we would have said, ‘Where’s the leadership?’ What’s good for the goose is good for everybody. If you’re not gonna do it to Steph Curry, don’t do it to anybody.”

Green’s most recent suspension came after he struck Jusuf Nurkic of the Phoenix Suns in the face during a game on Dec. 12. Earlier this season, he was suspended for five games after putting Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves in a chokehold during their game on Nov. 14.

Green was required to satisfy certain conditions before being allowed to return, and he reportedly took part in counseling. He, Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. and the NBA reportedly worked together to determine the terms of what was at first termed an indefinite suspension.

“Part of the indefinite return was about being in a better space, to allow my mind to process what it looks like to get in a better space,” Green said.

The Warriors have struggled without Green in the lineup despite fashioning a five-game winning streak early in his most recent suspension. But they have lost five of their past seven games to fall to a 17-19 record. They next play on Wednesday night at home against the New Orleans Pelicans.

It is unknown when Green will return to game action. He undoubtedly will be closely watched by fans and the NBA alike as he tries to rebuild his reputation – and the reputations of teammates like Curry – by showing more control when things go awry on the court.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.