The Warriors weren’t going to take Matt Barnes’ no for an answer.
Barnes famously left his 2017 NBA championship ring behind after Golden State presented it to him, as he didn’t consider himself a champion because he fell out of the Warriors’ playoff rotation due to an injury. His former team didn’t see it that way, however, and ensured that Barnes went home with his ring for good when he appeared on ESPN’s “The Jump” in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Host Rachel Nichols said the Warriors “had a courier drive [Barnes’] ring down” once they heard he would be on the show.
“You are an NBA Champion forever and don’t ever forget it.” — Steve Kerr@matt_barnes22‘s 2017 Championship ring made its way from The Bay to LA and into the hands of MB on today’s episode of @ESPN‘s The Jump. pic.twitter.com/tkAnMTIySM
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) August 25, 2020
“Hey, Matt. Congratulations! About time you took this ring,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said in a pre-recorded message. “We’ve been trying to get it to you for about three years, so. No, in all seriousness, I just want to say this was well-deserved. You played a big role on our team in ’17, especially when [Kevin Durant] went down, and you were a great leader. You were fantastic to coach, one of the most competitive people I’ve ever been around and you brought Warriors fans a lot of thrills over the years going back to the ‘We Believe’ era.
“So, thank you for everything you’ve done for our organization. Enjoy the ring. You are an NBA champion forever, and don’t ever forget that.”
[RUNNIN’ PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
Barnes revealed on his “All the Smoke” podcast in May that Warriors senior VP of communications Raymond Ridder was in possession of the ring. The NBA veteran said he didn’t “count that as a championship” and that he got “a free ring” for riding the pine on one of the greatest teams of all time.
He sold himself short with his own assessment, however, as Barnes played over 20 minutes per game in the regular season with the Warriors. He helped Golden State weather the storm in Durant’s absence, going 16-4 in the 20 regular-season games he played in. Had Barnes not gotten hurt, it’s possible — if not likely — he would’ve played a bigger role.
Still, Barnes is a competitor, and the sting of missing out on contributing during the playoffs for a title winner is understandable. That would be reason enough for Barnes to leave behind his ring, but he admitted Tuesday that part of the reason he did so was a little more practical than that.
“They had a special ceremony for me, obviously,” Barnes said of getting presented his championship ring. “Best part was my kids got rings, too. But because [the box the ring is in] is so big, I didn’t want to sit in the (Oracle Arena) stands with it, so they put it in a room. And then when I was ready to leave, the room was locked, and then it’s just been cat and mouse ever since.”
Barnes maintained some of his self-deprecating spirit, however, saying it “was an honor to get front-row seats to one of the greatest teams ever to do it.”
Even if Barnes won’t admit it himself, the Warriors know Barnes’ contributions to the 2017 title went far beyond having a great view. That’s why he’s finally going home with his ring.