PLAYA VISTA, Calif. – After two days of social media turmoil involving forward Matt Barnes, the Clippers are ready to move on. That’s probably a good thing.
While Barnes’ highly charged tweet this week was still a topic at practice Friday, the Clippers are preparing for another formidable opponent in an early season schedule full of them.
Saturday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center will mark a reunion for Clippers coach Doc Rivers and two of his former Boston Celtics players, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. All three ended long tenures in Boston last season.
“I try not to think about it because it’s going to be strange,” said Rivers, who coached the Celtics for nine seasons. “They’re very close to me, obviously. I know I would like to beat them because I know they would like to beat me. That’s a fact. Having said that, it’ll be different for sure.”
In his first public comments since he posted a racial epithet on Twitter after being ejected from Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Barnes offered another apology but also defended his use of the slur.
The NBA fined Barnes $25,000 on Thursday for failing to leave the court in a timely manner and for using inappropriate language.
But Barnes insisted the word is one that’s commonly used among players.
“Obviously, the word I used is a word that is used on the court, it’s used in the locker room, used among my friends and family,” he said. “It’s a regular word to me. My mistake was using it in a social manner, which I regret and apologized for, but this is a new day and age. For my generation, that’s a very common word.”
Barnes also complained that there’s a double standard because of his reputation as a tough player who’s usually among the first to get involved in an altercation on the court. He said he has received flagrant fouls on plays that would otherwise be called regular fouls by game officials.
But Rivers disagreed, saying, “I don’t think anybody’s unjustly targeted. I really don’t. When you do something, (referees) react, and if you have a history, then you have a history. I don’t think it’s any more than that.”
Barnes, asked how he would handle a similar situation the next time it occurs, said, “As long as it doesn’t get out of hand, I’m going to stand and watch.”
The Clippers, who are 4-0 at home this season, are enduring a tough opening sequence of games. So far, they’ve played the Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, Thunder and Houston Rockets (twice).
It’s doubtful the Barnes episode will be a distraction. Forward Blake Griffin said Barnes apologized to the team after the game and that the issue hasn’t been talked about since.
“We’re going to move on,” Griffin said. “This is not something we’re going to dwell on. We’ve got games to win.”