Matt Barnes is paying tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna with a brand new tattoo. The former NBA star, who appeared on Basketball Wives and Basketball Wives: LA, went to Instagram on Tuesday to document himself getting the tattoo from Steve Butcher, who is a known celebrity tattoo artist. The tattoo will honor Bryant and Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash in January. Barnes played with Bryant for two seasons when he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Tattoo day. Here goes my tattoo prep kit," Barnes said in his story via PEOPLE. Barnes later showed a glimpse of the tattoo, which was not done. It shows Bryant and Gianna embracing each other during the 2016 All-Star game. Despite playing only two seasons with Bryant (2010-2012), the two were close friends, and Barnes has been outspoken for his respect for Bryant on and off the court. In an interview with Sports Illustrated back in May, Barnes talked about the disrespect Bryant received when ESPN ranked Bryant as the ninth-best NBA player of all-time.
Matt Barnes is paying tribute to his friend and teammate Kobe Bryant with a brand new tattoo ... and it's incredible. pic.twitter.com/XTG5hYJLfP— TMZ Sports (@TMZ_Sports) August 12, 2020
"ESPN just came out with a list, and they had Kobe at nine," Barnes said. "When you ask players, they'll tell you, but it’s always the 'experts' that make these lists." Barnes then said his list would be "Kobe number two and LeBron number three. LeBron can pass Kobe if he can capture another title. That would be a title with three different teams. He's moving up the scoring list, he’s on the assist list and as far as all-around, he’s one of the greatest we’ve ever seen."
ESPN is not the only outlet to rank Bryant "low" by Barnes' standards. CBS Sports released its ranking of the top 15 players in NBA history, and Bryant came in at No. 10. The CBS Sports staff wrote: "Did he always channel his talents in the most productive directions? Probably not, and efficiency is what keeps him in this spot. But there wasn't anything he couldn't do on a basketball court, mentally or physically, and few players have ever won more. He must've been doing something right."
Barnes, 40, played for nine different NBA teams from 2004-2017. The highlight of his career is when he was able to help the Golden State Warriors win the NBA title in 2017. The Warriors signed Barnes when Kevin Durant went down with an MCL injury.