The line between keeping it honest and being disrespectful in the NBA media world no longer exists, according to Matt Barnes.
The former Warriors player and current ESPN analyst has been firing back at Patrick Beverley after the Minnesota Timberwolves guard criticized Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul for his poor performance in Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday in clips that went viral.
As part of his criticism, Beverley also said that he would have a wine and steak dinner the night before facing Paul, while he’d be in bed by eight o’clock before playing Steph Curry.
Barnes told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Grant Liffmann that Beverley could have criticized Paul without disrespecting him. As a former teammate of both Paul and Curry, Barnes defended Paul as a tough player to guard.
“Steph Curry is his own player and obviously the best shooter we’ve ever seen,” Barnes said. “And he can run you around the court the entire night, so obviously it’s a different preparation. But at the same time, Chris is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer, 12-time All-Star, nine-time defensive team. His accolades precede him. I just feel like in their own right, they are both great. You definitely need to stay ready with both these guys in particular.”
Barnes and Beverley went back and forth earlier this week after Barnes claimed that Beverley didn’t have the career accomplishments to go after Paul the way he did.
Barnes, who during his playing days was also a high-energy player like Beverley, said to Liffmann that certain athletes in the media feel “they have to be loud, say something crazy and be disrespectful to be accepted in this space.”
“We do have to tell the brutal, honest truth sometimes, but I do think within that, you don’t have to disrespect people,” Barnes said.
He compared the current sports media landscape to reality television, where controversy and disrespect are rewarded with attention.
“There is no line anymore,” Barnes said. “Everyone feels like they have to say the most outlandish, disrespectful thing to get attention on social media.”