Golden State Warriors #FBF: Matt Barnes Helps Host Charity Game During 2011 Lockout

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
Golden State Warriors
Matt Barnes [PC: UrbanBloke(P)productions, Carbonated.TV] /

Blue Man Hoop writer Angelo Mendoza recalls when former Golden State Warriors player Matt Barnes helped organize a charity exhibition game at San Jose State University during the 2011 NBA lockout. #FBF

Living in the East Bay, it was difficult not growing up a fan of the Golden State Warriors.

I grew up in a sports family. Warriors tickets were dirt cheap. You got free Jack in a Box tacos whenever you went because it was almost guaranteed every night that the Warriors would score at least 100 points.

And back when everyone I knew still referred to Oracle Arena as “The Coliseum,” I was one of the lucky little kids to play on the court and tour the locker rooms.

Nevertheless — as a little Asian kid aspiring to go to an Ivy League college and earn a career in the medical field (LMAO), there were more important things than basketball.

While I had been actively playing organized youth basketball from an early age, it really wasn’t until I saw the “We Believe” team that I truly developed my love for the sport. We Believe unified the entire Bay Area as a sea of gold, and for an adolescent looking to establish his identity, there was no better movement with which to be involved.

And now that Matt Barnes is back home in the Bay, We Believe nostalgia is at an all-time high, and I’m loving it. Funny enough, however, one of my favorite memories involving Barnes actually comes after his first stint with the Warriors.

Back during the 2011 NBA lockout season, I was dating this girl that went to San Jose State, and she was a huge basketball fan. She was one of the first to hear that Barnes was helping organize an exhibition game at the San Jose Event Center at SJSU, so we made plans to go and I essentially finessed her for tickets (just kidding — she was high key my sugar mama at the time).

The game took place on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, and the event reportedly drew a sellout crowd. Considering the lockout had NBA fans absolutely FEENING for basketball, the fact that Barnes — who was on the Los Angeles Lakers at the time — brought basketball specifically back to the Bay for a one-time, unique experience was appreciated immensely.

"“The reason I brought the game to the Bay is the fans. The fans here are amazing,” Barnes told Carbonated.TV. “Whether it’s a good team, a bad team or in the middle, the fans support it.”"

Barnes was joined on the We Believe team by former teammates Al Harrington and Jason Richardson, along with former Warriors players Gilbert Arenas (HIBACHI!), Ike Diogu, Antawn JamisonCorey Maggette, Anthony Morrow, and C.J. Watson.

Stephen Jackson unfortunately didn’t show, but Baron Davis ended up making an appearance, throwing up a lob from the sideline to J-Rich on the backdoor cut. The entire arena erupted when he addressed the crowd, saying “What’s up Bay Area?” He then pointed over at Stephen Curry, prophetically calling him “the future.”

David Lee and Dorell Wright joined Curry on the 2011 Dubs team, along with Lou Amundson, Charlie Bell, Jeremy Tyler, and Bay Area native Jeremy Lin.

Klay Thompson and Charles Jenkins were also there sitting courtside, as was Ekpe Udoh, whom I remember hitting the dougie at one point during the day to the cheers of the fans. Monta Ellis and Warriors legend Andris Biedrins were unable to make it despite being the only remaining players from the We Believe era at the time.

But to sum everything up, the exhibition was basically like every Warriors game prior to 2012: fast paced, high octane offense coupled with absolutely no defense.

Curry messed around and got a triple-double, dancing around, getting buckets and throwing dimes. Jeremy Tyler was jamming in windmills nearly every single time he got the ball, and Dorell Wright finished with a game-high 41 points, hitting nine threes.

Jeremy Lin was in full Linsanity mode before Linsanity was even a thing, while David Lee looked as if he was trying to win another dunk contest. Even Lou Amundson was out there finishing lobs!

Soon after the 2011 Dubs team defeated the We Believe team 158-153, fans just completely rushed the floor, clambering for autographs. I recall chasing around Curry, who was being smothered as he prepared to give away his shoes.

While it was all fun and games for most of it, Barnes kept it honest in postgame interviews, highlighting the lack of defense from the 2011 squad.

"“They have a good team,” Barnes told the San Francisco Chronicle that day. “They have some young athletic guys, but their problem is that they can’t play no defense.”"

*The team signed Dominic McGuire and traded for Brandon Rush about a month later.* 

Golden State Warriors
Jason Richardson [PC: UrbanBloke(P)productions, Carbonated.TV] /

But one of key things I remember from that day was Matt Barnes, standing at halfcourt with mic in hand, addressing the crowd.

He explained how the game was to benefit his foundation Athletes vs. Cancer, which certainly held great significance considering Barnes had lost his mother to cancer sometime during his first tenure in Golden State.

He also thanked everyone for coming out, mentioning how great it was to be back in the Bay Area, playing in front of some of the best fans in the NBA.

Fast forward to Thursday, March 2, 2017: the Warriors officially announce that the team would be signing Matt Barnes in wake of the injury to Kevin Durant, and the response from DubNation has seemingly been rather positive.

And the best thing about the whole Barnes situation is he’s reportedly happy to be here with Golden State. He feels as if this is just a continuation of the We Believe era, and he wants to finish what that team started by bringing the championship back to the Bay.

Other than his ability to space the floor and be a tenacious on-ball defender, it’s that emotional connection he has with the Bay that makes him such a great pickup for the Warriors.

"“I’m excited to be a part of something like this,” Barnes told media members prior to Golden State’s road game against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday. “They’ve created a culture here that’s really second to none. It’s just good to be back.”"