But there was something about their former teammate on Saturday that the Clippers didn’t miss: more controversy.
Barnes said he did not try to enter the Milwaukee Bucks locker room to go after John Henson on Thursday after Henson had blocked his shot and taunted him in the final seconds of a victory over Barnes’ Memphis Grizzlies.
Video footage showed Barnes running off the court and into a tunnel in the same direction as Henson, but Barnes said he was led astray by a worker at the arena.
“I got led into the wrong room,” said Barnes, who was also ejected, “so once I realized I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, I left and went into my locker room.”
Barnes said he wasn’t trying to escalate the situation, but security officials at the arena asked Henson to wait until the Grizzlies’ bus had departed before clearing him to leave.
“Maybe he was just scared,” Barnes said of Henson. “I don’t know why he was waiting. The situation happened on the court. He didn’t want it to spill over, I didn’t want it to spill over and they beat us.”
It would be Barnes’ second game against his former team this season but the first alongside Lance Stephenson, whom the Clippers acquired from the Charlotte Hornets in June for Barnes and Spencer Hawes. The Hornets later traded Barnes to the Grizzlies, who acquired Stephenson last month in a trade for Jeff Green.
“Once Lance got here,” Barnes said, “we both laughed that we got traded for each other and ended up playing with each other, so it’s kind of funny.”
Barnes’ three seasons as a Clipper included multiple controversies. He tweeted a racial epithet directed at his teammates and got into verbal sparring sessions with Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and James Harden’s mother.
He remained a popular teammate, which became obvious amid the flurry of hugs and handshakes he received as the Clippers walked onto the court for their shoot around Saturday. As Jordan wrapped him in a tight embrace, Barnes joked, “Come on, man, get out of here. It’s not about you right now.”
Barnes told Paul he was going to bring his sons to the Clippers’ game against Portland later this month and asked his former teammate whether he had informed his son that his twin boys were going to go to school with him next year.
There could be an extended reunion if the Clippers and Grizzlies meet in the first round of the playoffs, a strong possibility with the teams holding the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds in the Western Conference. That scenario would make at least one former Clipper happy.
“I would love to be able to go back home and play these people in the playoffs,” Barnes said.
Follow Ben Bloch on Twitter: @latbbolch
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