Every sports fan has an athlete they can’t stand and would probably take a swing at if their paths ever crossed. At least you always tell yourself that, then you realize that virtually any pro athlete would dismantle you in a matter of seconds. We at Pyle of List are no exception. So we present to you the Grudge Matches of the Century:
My personal history with Matt Barnes dates back to college. Going to USC, high amounts of disdain for UCLA basketball players (or the program in general) isn’t very unique. Every year I pick out 2-3 guys on the Bruin roster that I despise. The entire time he was in school, Matt Barnes was always on that list (like Earl Watson before him). As anyone who knew me then can attest to, I complained about Barnes all the time. He’s the perfect “guy you can’t stand” on an opposing team: always played hard, made the right plays and was successful despite the fact he wasn’t great at anything, but good at everything. Add that to the fact Barnes always saved his best games for USC and you have an arch-nemesis for yours truly. But on a fateful night at the Great Western Forum, I got my revenge.
First of all, it was a USC-UCLA game scheduled during the last few days of the Winter break from school so most students weren’t back yet. That thinned out the crowd to hardcore supporters of both schools making the atmosphere electric. Also, they played the game in the Fabulous Forum which ratcheted up the intensity a bit. Since the Elite 8 run of 2001, USC’s basketball team hadn’t fared well against the crosstown Bruins (usually losing in the worst way possible) so we were itching for a victory as well.
After a back and forth game, the Trojans pulled out the victory sending the crowd into hysterics. But before the final buzzer sounded, we rushed the court to celebrate what felt like a momentous triumph. Since we hit the floor early, the players had yet to exit to the locker room leaving them in path of an oncoming mob. I spotted Barnes out of the corner of my eye and ran over to him. Initially I planned on getting in his face, but even through the rush of adrenaline I thought better of it. He was very disappointed with the loss, so he was frozen in one place and slightly slumped over. So I stopped a few feet away from him, squared up, pointed my finger at him and cackled maniacally at him (good friends know this as my patented Wayne Arnold-esque Pyle cackle). He briefly considered punching me but Barnes thought better of it, hung his head and skulked back to the locker room while I went to celebrate with the horde of Trojans at midcourt. This interaction will always be the measuring stick by which athlete/celebrity encounters will forever be judged in my life. Now, I think it’s time for us to throw down for real.
Tale of the Tape:
JP– 6’4″, 255lbs, no college/professional sports experience
Matt Barnes– 6’7″, 225lbs, 3 years in the NBA
Barnes wins in all the physical categories except weight, but I’ll go out on a limb and assume his strength would make that “advantage”null and void. So, for me to win I’d have to rely on intangibles like… nope, I think he could take me.
Big Shot Rob
First of all, I never really had any issues with Robert Horry. He was on the Lakers for quite a while, and they are division rivals with my Kings. He was just lumped in with all the Lakers I that I didn’t like. However, Robert Horry’s late game heroics are well documented and in May 2002 things changed. It went from indifference to pure abhorrence. You know how it happened. You know when it happened. You know why I hate Mr. Big Shot.
The loathing is similar to the way USC football fans feel about Vince Young. It may have been an amazing athletic performance on Horry’s part, but to Kings fans, that three-pointer as time expired in game 4 will always be a cold dagger in out collective heart. If he doesn’t make that shot, the Kings go up 3-1 in the series as it goes back to Sacramento. The Kings have yet to get as close to a championship again as they did that year…and it definitely doesn’t look like they’re getting closer any time soon. The roster is a mess, the West is continuing to get tougher, we don’t have a coach…I’m rambling.
I don’t have a personal connection to Horry, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t relish cheap-shotting him.
Tale of the Tape:
Lunchbox – 5’11” 175 lbs, Intramural Ultimate Frisbee
Robert Horry – 6’10” 240 lbs, six-time NBA champion
I’ve got anger on my side. He’s got nearly a foot of height and 70 extra lbs on his side. Unless I have a weapon and the element of surprise, I don’t have a chance. But at least I’d be able to tell my kids about the time I went fisticuffs with one of the most clutch players the court has ever seen.