The Knicks played their first preseason game on Wednesday, but their triangle offense was overshadowed in the press by a disturbing love triangle going on behind-the-scenes. According to several reports, Knicks coach Derek Fisher was attacked by his former Lakers teammate Matt Barnes after Barnes found out Fisher has been seeing his estranged wife, Basketball Wives LA star Gloria Govan.
Sources told the NY Post that Barnes, who has previously been arrested for domestic abuse, became enraged when his 6-year-old twin sons called him Saturday to say that Fisher was at Govan's home. "Barnes went crazy. He got in his car and went to the house and went after Fisher,” one source told them. "Matt then drove down there to beat the s-t out of him." Barnes had to drive 95 miles to get to the house, where he found Fisher, Govan and about 10 other people around a bonfire in the back yard.
A fight erupted at 11:45 p.m. between the 235-pound Barnes and the 6-1, 200-pound Fisher. Cops were called, but Fisher left before they arrived, the sources said. Following the dustup, Barnes, 35, texted a pal that he had not only assaulted Fisher, 41, but also took revenge on Govan, one source said.
“I kicked his ass from the back yard to the front room, and spit in her face,” the text read, according to the source. A source close to Fisher confirmed the fight, but insisted it wasn’t as one-sided as Barnes claimed.
“Matt came after Derek, but he only had a few scratches,” the source said. “Derek’s not going to press charges; he’s going to let it go.”
Barnes and Govan have reportedly been separated since September 2014; Fisher divorced his own wife this past March. Fisher missed the Knicks practice on Monday for "personal reasons."
Derek Fisher was not at practice due to personal reasons - expected back tomorrow. Arron Afflalo (sore left hamstring) did not practice.
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) October 5, 2015
Since the story broke late yesterday, there's been a lot of snickering and chastising by sportswriters. Deadspin argues rightfully that snickering over the details of the story is pretty despicable, since a woman is being terrorized by her controlling ex:
When an accused domestic abuser shows up uninvited at a family party to—as a source put it to the New York Post—“beat the shit” out of someone for the offense of dating his ex, that is not a wacky character up to zany shenanigans. It is not reality TV melodrama or a cartoon or celebrities being silly. It is the behavior of a dangerous misogynist lunatic. It is an act of violent aggression. It is a man forcefully asserting personal property rights over a woman’s home, body, and life. It differs from what Ray Rice did in that elevator by degree, not by kind, and not by all that much. It is not fucking funny.
As for the chastising, leave it to the NY media to get all high-and-mighty about who adults can or can't date. Frank Isola of the Daily News thinks Fisher "should be held accountable" for Barnes' unhinged actions...because Fisher had the audacity to date someone who is fully capable of making their own adult decisions? Because an unnamed "team official" says there's an unwritten rule about who coaches and players can or can't date? Something like that:
The incident in Los Angeles was a scene right out of the trashy show. Fisher, who filed for divorce from his wife last March, is the victim here since Barnes reportedly attacked him. Fisher might press charges. But on some level Fisher should be held accountable as well. Why put yourself in this position on the first week of training camp 2,500 miles from your team?
The 17-win Knicks were the joke of the NBA last year. Fisher just made himself a punch line with the entire league.
Before yesterday's meaningless preseason game, Fisher told reporters he had spoken to the team about the incident and made it clear that his focus was on the team: "I’ve been through a lot in life," he said. "Sometimes we go through things we can’t or can control. I’m here. I’m focused. It’s not something that’s going to take me away from what we’re trying to do."
Carmelo said the team was caught off guard by the story Wednesday, but now understood what was going on and stood by their coach: "As a team, it was amongst us to let him deal with his own personal issues," he told reporters. "Nowadays it’s a fine line between private lives and our day job. It’s starting to intertwine. You try to compartmentalize the personal stuff."
“I’m coach of a basketball team in the world’s biggest media market. She’s a reality TV star married to Matt Barnes. This is a good idea.”
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) October 7, 2015
— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) October 7, 2015
Sure, this wasn't the perfect start to (what is likely going to be) a pretty forgettable season for the Knicks, but to blame Fisher for the actions of another disturbed individual, someone with a history of domestic abuse, is completely absurd. Reading some of these hot takes, it is as if Govan doesn't exist at all, or have any agency in her own life.
This isn't a story of two men coming to blows over bragging rights or whatever. This is about one individual who attacked another because he can't control his emotions and he doesn't respect women. And brushing that aside is more disturbing than anything Fisher did or didn't do.