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Watch '(R)evolution' to Get a Deep Dive into Former NBA Baller, Activist Matt Barnes

Former NBA player Matt Barnes has a new documentary.

Barnes played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies. Since retiring in 2017 — his last team was with the Warriors — Barnes stayed in media, appearing on various NBA shows on ESPN, as well as hosting the podcast, All the Smoke, but Barnes’ eight-part docuseries exploring the lives of athletes after their careers was released Dec. 13.

He said there is a reason why right now is the perfect time to release his documentary.

“I think I have a unique upbringing, and my upbringing has kind of defined who I am as a man today, and I just wanted to shed light on what that upbringing was about and some of the ups and downs that I went through,” Barnes said.

The documentary, he said in an interview with The Quintessential Gentleman, also sheds light on who he truly was as a player as opposed to the bad boy image that was portrayed in sports media when he was an active player in the NBA.

But more than anything, Barnes said basketball fans might see a similar upbringing to how they were brought up, fighting through some of those same struggles as opposed to just seeing the finished product and the gaudy stats that ESPN constantly televises.

One source that helps people see who the athlete is on the surface level is social media, but he says that isn’t enough.

“Now more than ever, players have the ability to show who they are via social media, but that’s not really a deep dive. That’s never really a deep dive into what they’re about,” Barnes said. “I think this is really a deep dive into who I am and how I became that person and I think it’s important to see the full story because people are going to judge whether they know the full story or not. But to me, it’s kind of cool to have the full truth out there instead of people guessing what the truth is.”

A truth that Barnes wants to display to the world is how he gained his father through the loss of his mother. Barnes, who went to Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California, was raised in the crack epidemic. His household comprised a father who was a drug dealer and parents who were going through an abusive relationship.

As he was going through this plague, he was also dealing with bullies at school who were racially profiling him and bullying him. His father, he said, told him to fight them if they call him a n****r.

Still, Barnes said that while his father was in the household, they weren’t connected. It took the passing of his mother in 2007 for Barnes’ father to realize how instrumental it is to open up and be vulnerable to his son, who would go on to play with the late great Kobe Bean Bryant.

Today, he and his father are on great terms, often saying, “I love you,” to each other.

The issue of expressing love to each other wasn’t really a situation until Barnes grew up. Barnes in the interview said it is imperative for Black men to seek therapy despite what people think.

“It shouldn’t be compartmentalized. It should be talked about,” Barnes said. “…[M]e at 42, I’m at two different kinds of counseling.”

Counseling has helped. But Barnes knew from the get-go when he had his children that he would do everything possible to be a great dad to his kinfolk. Past experiences with his father taught Barnes to evolve as a parent for his children in 2022, saying it’s important to love on your kids as much as possible but to discipline when necessary.

“Raise well-rounded men. Morals, values, principles stuff to stand on,” Barnes said. “I think this generation is persuaded so easily because they see stuff on the internet, and most of the time stuff on the internet isn’t true. … You want to teach them right and wrong.”

One can only teach a child right and wrong if they are given an opportunity. Barnes said that when he retired following winning an NBA championship with the Gold State Warriors in 2017, his goal was to be more present with his children, which was a situation at first that was difficult since getting a divorce near the end of his basketball career.

Now, he spends more time with his children, taking them to school and guiding them more directly as a father. While investing was something that he always did, which set him up to have a few options to choose from, including media, the time he now has to spend with his kids is invaluable.

Additionally, in the documentary, he highlights the activism he participates in today, which was inspired by a situation when he was in high school. His sister was racially profiled and eventually spat on, so Barnes retaliated by confronting the bully, and beating him down.

He was suspended, but the KKK vandalized the school and put swastikas on the walls, spewing and spreading other rhetoric.

This situation, the Donald Sterling situation when the beleaguered former Los Angeles Clippers owner was caught on camera spewing racist balderdash, and the countless police brutality incidents sparked Barnes to speak on these issues more, much like four-time NBA champion LeBron James has always done.

“It kind of opened the door for us. Once the King does it, once some of the best players do it, it kind of opens the door for everyone else,” Barnes said. “I chose to push the line and push the envelope.”

Barnes is also into politics, too, which is highlighted in the docuseries.

The full interview can be heard below.

(R)evolution can be streamed on Apple TV and Prime Video.


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