Basketball Wives is full of reporting on the underbelly of sports relationships, which makes Gloria Govan the show’s one true romantic. She’s happily engaged to Matt Barnes of the Orlando Magic, much to the chagrin of her cast mates, who think that Gloria’s relationship isn’t as rosy as she thinks it is (even the show’s detached narrator, Shaunie, referred to Gloria as “naive”). Below, Gloria talks to us about being the black sheep of Basketball Wives, her “sleeping with the enemy” comment regarding Royce Reed, her fiance’s negative opinion of the show, and why she isn’t a fan of it herself.
And how do you feel about the show? Do you feel like your portrayal is accurate?
To a certain extent. I didn’t know the women coming into the show, so I think sometimes I may come off a little naive. I may come off as the shy-girl-in-the-background type, which is not my personality at all. I’ve never had a problem telling anybody how I feel. On the show, though, I’m being me, 100 percent real the whole time so there’s no surprises. I haven’t seen any surprises.
Speaking of naive, that’s what Shaunie labels you as at one point, and she’s piggybacking off of Evelyn and Jennifer sentiments about your relationship. What do you think about that?
I think it’s unfortunate. I don’t think I’m naive whatsoever. For me to say that I’m the only person that Matt’s ever been with, that would be naive. But I know the man that I’m with. We have our ups and we have our downs just like everybody else does. We’ve made mistakes but we’ve grown from them and moved past them, but I definitely wouldn’t say I’m naive. I’m aware that Matt is surrounded by groupies, being away from home as often as he is, but I know the kind of man I’m with and I trust him. I think I’m very fortunate in an unlucky way — Matt having lost his mom, I think, has really opened his eyes to how important family really is. I don’t think he’s willing to jeopardize it for anything.
What did you think of the fact that Jennifer and Evelyn seem insistent on pushing the point that he’s not as faithful as you seem to think he is?
You have these grown women who have been in the game for so long, and you would think they would say, “Hey listen, Gloria, I’ve been there done that for the past 10 years and here are my stories, here is my advice, take it for what it’s worth and good luck.” Instead they have to be so persistent and try to taint our relationship. I look at it as being bitter and jealous. I’m 10 years younger than most of the cast members on the show, I’m 24-years-old, and I’m in a respectful, loving relationship, I’m getting married in August, I have two beautiful kids and a family who loves me, and a lot of them are missing a majority of those components. It’s natural for them to be envious of what I have.
They’ve gone as far as to suggest that they have, maybe secondhand evidence, that Matt has been unfaithful to you. Do you have any response to that?
No. I think that they’re just very scarred individuals who don’t have anything else better to do than try to create misery. They would be happy if I was where they are now, and that’s unfortunate. If you’re someone who thrives on someone else’s misery and you’re trying to break up a happy home, I just think it’s kind of sad.
On the show, regarding Matt’s personal business you said, “If you go digging for dirt, you’ll get your hands dirty.” Can you explain what you meant by that?
If someone is saying, “Matt is this and Matt is that,” and you break into e-mails and you look in phones and you find nothing, I think that satisfaction becomes overwhelming and you assume this role of being a detective and an investigator. You start to lose who you are. I’m definitely not going to say that Matt is perfect. Who is? But I don’t worry about Matt being on the road. I don’t.
What did you think about Matt saying the show “disgusted” him in a recent interview?
Matt is very opinionated. I just asked him to make sure that he pinpoints exactly what disgusts him next time. That’s just such a broad and vague comment that it could be interpreted in any way. It didn’t surprise me, though. Matt has told me several times that he doesn’t like the show. It’s not necessarily about my role, but just how bitter the other women are. Bitter and angry and just jealous. He’s just like, “That’s not a good look, that’s not who you are, that’s not who you represent.” I think he’s more concerned about people thinking that I run in this kind of circle, because I don’t. I can’t say that I was disgusted by the first episode, but you know, I wasn’t really a fan.
Oh, really? Has your attitude changed since then?
No. I mean, I’m still not a fan of the show. I joined the show after Shaunie approached me last year in Phoenix and she had been pretty persistent over the summer about it. She said, “Hey, listen, the show is not going to be about drama, it’s not going to be about groupies. It’s about independent women trying to come out of the shadows of their significant others.” I was all about that. I’m involved in several charities, I’m an entrepreneur myself. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I was definitely willing to show people that we’re not gold diggers. We don’t shop and spend all day at the spa. We don’t have six butlers and four nannies and personal chef. That’s not what this life is about.
Even with the drama, I do get the sense that you all have your own stuff going on.
I think the show maybe touches on those things, but I don’t think it’s the main focus. It’s supposed to be about friendship and showing people we’re a support group for one another, and that definitely doesn’t come off in the show. That’s unfortunate, because we really are a support group for one another. We’re not catty, cliquey people. We’re all in the same boat together, so we’re all very respectful of people’s situations.
Are you referring to the people you’re on the show with?
No, no, no. My friends. And not just my immediate circle, but majority of the women in the NBA.
Your storyline isn’t exactly drama-free, though. When you talk about Royce you say to fraternize with her would be like sleeping with the enemy.
What I mean by that is Royce is Dwight Howard’s baby mother, and Matt is on the same team as Dwight Howard, so being friends with Royce is not worth messing up Matt’s team camaraderie. If Royce comes over here and we’re all buddy-buddy and Matt’s around, that could really end up messing up Matt and Dwight’s friendship.
Regardless of whether or not Royce is a nice person, this overrides that?
Yeah absolutely, yeah. You’re talking about something long term. You’re talking about a championship. You’re talking about my fiancé’s career, his friendships. That definitely precedes my friendship to Royce, absolutely.
Was this always your concern with Royce, or did you develop it after getting to know her?
It was a concern immediately with Royce. I feel Royce’s actions sort of justify why women, wives and girlfriends in general should be concerned with the proximity or the availability that cheerleaders have to basketball players.
Obviously the reason she was so aggressive in the boxing ring is because everyone had sort of informed her of your opinion of her. Did you feel betrayed by everyone at that point?
Not necessarily betrayed, I just think that they realize that I’m not going to conform to their little group, and so I think they try really hard to make me the black sheep or the outsider. Which is fine. I don’t have a problem with that, it was just kind of funny that they try to make it seem like I’m the only one who feels this way. They’re so quick to tell Royce, “Oh, well Gloria said this,” but in turn, they were agreeing with me or it may have been that they started the conversation and I just chimed in a little bit. I just think it was everybody’s opportunity to say, “Now we have a way to turn the tables.”
Was it disappointing or stressful at all for you that you were made out to be the black sheep?
I wouldn’t say disappointing, no. I actually like being the black sheep. I like representing who I am and letting people know that I just don’t conform to peer pressure and everything. Was it stressful? To a certain degree. That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me, though. I graduated high school obviously and graduated college, so those high school cliques don’t stress me out whatsoever.
I’m sure that you don’t want to get into it about your sister’s alleged affair with Shaq, but did that add any level of stress as well? The fact that you were coming in with people already whispering about your family?
No. Like I said, in the show, they already formed their opinions and they’re already friends with Shaunie. And although I’m friends with Shaunie, I can’t say that we talk on the phone or we text each other. We are cordial, but she’s not invited to my wedding. She’s not that type of friend, so it didn’t bother me. You guys have already formed your own opinions, and I’m not here to change that. I’m here to say you’re not going to talk about my sister in front of me and think that that’s OK.
This show kind of presents you as a minority. Certainly you’re the only person that isn’t jaded about your relationship. You seem to be the only person who believes in the possibility of monogamy. In the overall scheme of basketball-wifery that goes beyond this show, are you a minority?
No, not at all. That’s unfortunate, too, because I think that the cast members of the show stereotype all athletes and put them all under this one umbrella because they were scarred and they were disrespected and they were in a relationship that was unsuccessful. So it’s easy to point the finger and say, “Well he cheated on me, so because everybody plays basketball, they cheat on wives, too.” And that’s not the case. We all have to deal with the same stuff, the groupies, and we do all have to deal with the concerns of possible infidelity, but that’s not the case whatsoever. There are tons of relationships that are great and healthy and respectful and have been long term, so I am definitely not a minority on the league, but definitely on the show.
Knowing what you know about the way the show turned out, would you do it all over again?
No. No, no.
Would you participate in a second season?
Wow. I think you might be the first person on VH1 to have a taste of reality TV not to want more of it. You talked about Shaunie presenting the show as a way for you to break out and show your independence. Do you feel like you’re living in Matt’s shadow?
I think being married to somebody that casts such a big shadow is difficult and Matt has been in the limelight since he was 18. It’s difficult to stand on your own and say, “Well, wait a minute, I’m not just Matt’s fiancé, I’m Gloria.” If I had my own limelight coming in, then it would be a different story. But I think trying to create or establish some sort of individuality is always challenging.
You mentioned your charities and the fact that you’re an entrepreneur, can you talk about that a little bit?
I’m the executive director for Athletes vs. Cancer, which is Matt’s foundation, and we do a lot of events that’s not just cancer based, but we do a lot of events that help underprivileged children or for young women who had children who don’t have the supplies that they need. We’re also doing something with Hoop Connection, which helps provide scholarships to underprivileged children or children who maybe have the potential but don’t have the outlets or the networking skills to go out there and get a scholarship. I just got on board to do one of the Florida Children’s Hospital’s biggest events next year, also. My parents own night clubs in California and that’s something both my brother and I are looking to do in Orlando. I actually have a baby product out. It’s a mattress that should help prevent SIDS. There are a lot of things that the show doesn’t portray or doesn’t show, so that’s frustrating.