Matt Barnes made his first official appearance as a member of the Orlando Magic Friday, fielding questions from a dozen local media members at the RDV Sportsplex. Barnes came across as fairly down-to-earth and was also pretty well-spoken. You can check out some of the most interesting things he had to say below. He said it came down to Orlando and Cleveland, and he chose the Magic after some persuasion from Dwight Howard:
“We have the same agent and he hit me out of the blue two weeks ago. Where do you stand? Where do we stand? I said, ‘You guys are at the top of my list, there just hasn’t been any budging. Six hours later my agent called me back and said they offered me a contract. … Dwight called, I thanked him for that. When the best player on the team wants you here it makes you feel good.”
He expects to have a chance to compete for a starting spot:
“He [Stan Van Gundy] said he has his four starters in Jameer, Vince, Dwight and Rashard. Me and Pietrus will battle it out to see who that other starter is. Pietrus and I did the same thing at Golden State so we’re good friends. It’ll be a tough battle but at the same time we’re teammates. Whoever’s out there we’re going to be rooting and just hoping they’ll be the best.
He said he has a lot of respect for the team Orlando has put together this offseason:
“Dwight’s a bad man. Jameer’s amazing. Rashard’s an all-star. Vince Carter, he’s a bad man. I’m very excited. We were talented in Phoenix last year, but I think we may be more talented here as far as younger players at the top of their game at this time a great coach in Van Gundy. I wish the season starts tomorrow. I’m ready.”
He hopes that he, along with Orlando’s other offseason acquisitions, will add some much-need toughness to the team’s line-up:
“Like I said, I hope to be a part of that, part of the toughness. Vince is a tough player, Brandon Bass is very tough player. Hopefully with us and Ryan Anderson, someone who’s from my hometown hopefully we can make a difference.”
He said that after bouncing around the league his first few years in the NBA, he almost gave up the game to pursue a career in the NFL:
“I gave myself one more year with the Golden State thing that happened my first year we went to the playoffs and beat Dallas. I had seven NFL teams willing to give me a tryout, a walk on tryout. I was dead serious about making the jump but I’m glad golden state worked out. These last three or four years have been great. It brought me here today and I’m very excited to be here.”
Partial video of the session after the jump. We’ve also started experimenting with video on the site. Here’s a brief portion of what Barnes had to say via video recorded by me. It’s a little rough but it’s the first time we’ve used the camera so have some patience while we work all the kinks out. Isn’t that what the offseason is for?