When is a racial slur not a racial slur? When there’s an “A” at the end of it, according to Matt Barnes.
Barnes, a forward for the Los Angeles Clippers, used a common epithet in a since-deleted tweet after he was ejected from Wednesday’s game against the Thunder. When asked about his tweet a day later, Barnes issued a sort-of apology while telling reporters to “get used to” hearing it.
“The word I used is a word that’s used on the court, used in the locker room, used amongst my friends and family,” Barnes told reporters at Clippers practice on Friday. “It’s a regular word to me. I think my mistake was using it in a social manner, which I regret and I apologize for it. But you guys have to get used to it.”
Barnes went on to say the word was “not necessarily a racial slur,” depending on the context and whether it ends with an “-er” or an “a.” He called it a “very common word,” explaining “that’s how we talk. That’s how my wife talks. That’s how my family talks. People talk that way now. … If you have an -a on it, it’s more slang.”
Barnes tweeted angrily after he was ejected for coming to the defense of teammate Blake Griffin, who got tangled up with Thunder forward Serge Ibaka in the second quarter. The NBA fined Barnes $25,000 for failing to leave the court and for his language in the tweet.
“I love my teammates like family, but I’m DONE standing up for these [expletives]!,” Barnes tweeted. “All this [expletive] does is cost me money.”