Penny Hardaway ended his chat with reporters like this … "Rick Barnes … Get the &*$% out of here."
I've never heard a coach talk like Penny just did about Rick Barnes.
— Mark Giannotto (@mgiannotto) December 18, 2018
Listen I get it. Rick Barnes and Co. showed up at your house and dropped a hundred-piece on your team. During the game, there was a point where words were exchanged between teams. Which is to be expected in a rivalry game in front of a sold out crowd. But nothing more than that, really. Penny’s response to these words being exchanged? Complete fantasy:
The entire Tennessee team ran over to fight. Their entire team emptied the bench to run over. They didn’t come over because it was a timeout. You could visibly see guys with their fists balled, talking trash to our guys. It was almost like a standoff. I was asking the referee why they were able to come across the line into our area and not get a technical.
Watch the video below, and tell me this man isn’t living in some sort of alternate reality:
— Curtis Herd (@CurtisHerd) December 15, 2018
But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. It must have been him coming down off of his emotional high after the game. And maybe he had a different angle of the whole sequence.
Either way though, it was a story for the media after Penny shot his mouth off. It was enough of a story that it had to come up a few days later, when Barnes was asked on Vol Calls about the game and the talk surrounding it. What did he do? Did he talk about the incident and what he thought about it all after reviewing the tape? Maybe return fire and escalate things?
He did what every Tennessee coach ever should do when there is some drama around his program. He deflected everything onto Bob Kesling. Speaking to Kesling, Barnes said:
At any time Saturday did you ball your fist up and get ready to fight the other commentator?
That was it! That was apparently enough to get Hardaway to call Barnes “disrespectful” and to tell him to “Get the **** out of here.”
It would be one thing if there was actually a fight on the court, at which point it would boil down to who started it and hearsay. But there wasn’t even a fight.
At this point, it just seems like Hardaway is trying to stay in the media spotlight for as long as he can to relive his NBA glory days, when he became known for riding Shaq’s coattails and his weak knees. He proved that he was a first-year head coach in way over his head, having only high school and AAU coaching experience to fall back on. It also says a lot about his leadership abilities when his immediate reaction to adversity is to play the victim.
And none of that even mentions his entire game plan to beat Tennessee was to tell his team to flop as much as possible.