SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Matt Barnes hasn’t been on an NBA roster in four years, but he still suits up for games.
After playing 14 seasons in the league, Barnes has joined the ranks of the sports media, working for several networks as a basketball analyst, and even a podcast host.
“Although it wasn’t planned, I went from my career getting a chance to win a championship with the Warriors in 2017, right to ESPN and Fox,” Barnes told FOX40.
Barnes admitted this wasn’t all part of “the plan.”
“I wanted to produce and direct. I still wanted to be a part of TV, just behind the camera,” he said. “A couple people told me, ‘You just need to try talking. You’re good at talking, try talking about sports.’ So I did a couple ESPN and Fox things and I kind of liked it, and from there it kind of took off.”
This 2021 season brought with it new opportunities for Barnes.
The Sacramento native and former Kings player is among the newest additions to the NBC Sports Kings broadcast team.
“I’ve been blessed getting the opportunity to come to my hometown and working with the Kings, working ESPN, working my podcast, I’ve been able to do a lot of different media. So I really enjoy where I’m at right now,” Barnes said.
Although Barnes has technically made the transition from athlete to on-air personality, it’s his player perspective that allows him to add another layer to his broadcasts.
“I just have a unique understanding of what it takes to shoot a free throw with eight seconds left and the crowd going crazy, what it’s like to be in a locker room after a tough loss, after a great win,” Barnes said. “I just try to bring my experience of playing to really inform our fan base.”
One thing that Barnes has left in the past is the persona of his playing days.
“You know, to get my start in this NBA, I had to do whatever it took to play. So I wasn’t ashamed of that, I wasn’t embarrassed of that, but I developed kind of a reputation as kind of a tough guy or bad guy,” he said. “But I think social media, ‘cause my career, I caught kind of the beginning of the social media boom and then being able to talk on TV all the time, I think people can see who I really am.”
As for what’s next for Barnes, that may not be what you expect given his success in front of the camera.
“My aspirations are behind the camera,” he explained. “So to continue to learn to produce, and also learning how to direct. Content is really my goal in the media space.”