Red, White & Barnes!

NBA baller Matt Barnes and his wife, Gloria, throw a Fourth of July barbecue worthy of the stars and stripes

by Amy Elisa Keith, June 11, 2013


He’s a pro basketball player known for clutch three-point shots and a foul-inducing temper. She’s known for being the former HWIC (i.e., head wifey in charge) on VH1’s Basketball Wives LA, unafraid to start—then end—a fight. But at home in Redondo Beach, Calif., newlyweds Matt Barnes and Gloria Govan clash only when it comes to cooking.  “Matt likes to take charge when he’s in the kitchen,” says Gloria, 27. “He likes to throw down with his barbecue sandwiches and Parmesan-coated tacos. He says, ‘Let me show you how to do it.’ I’m like, ‘Relax.’” The Barneses’ diverse dishes are at the center of a new YouTube series, Cooking With the Barnes, featuring 30-minute dinners and easy appetizers. In fact, the Clippers forward is considering going to culinary school and opening a restaurant after retiring.  Aside from a dash of competition and a pinch of smack talk, Matt is actually the chill, always-ready-to-help guy, especially when it comes to entertaining. “We’ll have the music playing, mess around and dance, watch TV; we do anything to entertain our guests,” says Matt, 33, of hosting family birthdays, couples’ dinners, plus the regular Taboo game night. 

The Barneses represent a modern American family, headed by a Black-Italian dad and Black-Mexican mom. Their rambunctious twin boys, Isaiah and Carter, 4, have already perfected under-the-leg dunks on their kiddie basketball hoops. “Daddy, watch this,” Carter yells out looking to lock eyes with his 6-foot-7-inch idol. Swish. “That’s how we do!” Matt unleashes a beaming grin before giving his little guy a pound and a hug. Next up, Isaiah goes for the pump fake before blowing right past Carter to dunk. “Yeah!” Isaiah screams before running to grab onto Daddy’s tattooed calf. “I really love to see two little me’s,” says Matt, who gets just as excited watching Finding Nemo with his sons as he does seeing them on the court. Surprisingly, he’s the playful parent; Gloria is the “bad cop.” Laughing, she admits, “I’m like, ‘Don’t play me.’”

On this sunny afternoon, however, it’s all fun as the clan prepares for EBONY’s Fourth of July-themed shoot. Matt is fresh from a grueling practice while Gloria effortlessly transitions from the makeup chair to the kitchen, preparing chicken skewers with her sister-in-law Marlena. With about six crew members moving furniture and setting up lighting equipment, the family, including the little guys, doesn’t seem to be phased. Perhaps those seasons on Basketball Wives have something to do with their ease. Gloria insists, however, that this many people in their two-story Spanish-style home is the norm, cameras or not.

“I come from a big family, so I’m used to having people here all the time,” says Gloria, who has nine siblings. Since they have friends and family over at least three times a week, she admits, “I don’t know how to do small. I’m used to doing big.” Matt, on the other hand, is one of three children, so he had to adjust to the chaos and “open-door” policy.

Together, Gloria and Matt are the ultimate dynamic duo when it comes to hosting. “We always have a plan,” says Matt, who handles cleaning, from the cabinets to the carpets. Gloria tackles decorations, admitting that she can sometimes get carried away. “For the boys’ birthday, I’d rent a train and get a Ferris wheel. I want a donkey that does jokes; I want the whole nine,” she says, laughing.  “Matt is just there for the ride.” Each has a to-do list of chores to keep organized. When guests arrive, Matt turns on an R&B playlist—“Donell Jones, Blackstreet, Guy, all the old late ’80s, early ’90s”—and Gloria greets everyone with a hug.

“I try to go for variety,” says the gracious hostess of cooking for a summer bash. “You should always prepare poultry, some type of meat, then a fish or a vegetarian dish.” For her, preparing extra portions is especially important when fellow Clippers Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are on the guest list. All her secrets to feeding pro ballers and growing boys will soon be available to the masses. Gloria and Marlena have teamed up to release a cookbook due this summer titled A Mixed Girl’s Favorite Recipes, with an assortment of recipes, including the ones they’ve whipped up for today’s photo shoot.

Is there a television cooking show in the Barneses’ future? While it’s not the plan, Matt and Gloria are open to doing another TV show, on one condition: “We’d have control.” For the time being, however, they’ll settle for control of the twins, who are showing off their hoop skills for a captivated and cheering audience, aka the EBONY photo crew.

“C’mon, guys! It’s ready,” yells Gloria, carrying a platter of freshly grilled ribs outside to the patio. After Matt pours two glasses of sangria and prepares plates for the boys, Isaiah

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