Many of us can’t relate to the intensity of an athletic competition at a very high level like, let’s say, an NBA playoff game. There are times players — in any sport at various levels — are so focused on the mission at hand, they don’t see the crowd.Matt Barnes of the Clippers wasn’t in that zone earlier this week. In the second quarter of the second game of the second-round NBA playoff game in Houston, Barnes exchanged barbs/words with fans, something he’s done previously this season.This time, there were special factors involved. One, according to the NBA, was he used “inappropriate” language toward a fan during an exchange in the second quarter. Second, the woman was later identified as Monja Willis, who just happens to be the mother of the Rockets’ James Harden. So if a legendary trash-talker finds fault with the motherly comment, it’s further proof Barnes crossed into no-man’s land.Mothers have earned a unique status among today’s athletes. While accepting honors for their efforts, they start to tear up, and shaking, when thanking Mom for being the foundation of their success.Who did that?For openers, there was Kevin Durant pouring out his heart when calling Wanda Pratt the “real MVP” after he won the NBA MVP last year. Others to give thanks have been Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps, volleyball star Gabrielle Reece, basketball greats Shaquille O’Neal and LaBron James, baseball superstars Derek Jeter and Mike Trout, and NASCAR drivers Kyle Petty, Danica Patrick and Carl Edwards.And that’s just a start. Attend an awards ceremony or team awards dinner, especially at the high school level, and listen as athlete after athlete thanks Mom for her help, support and guidance, with a special emphasis on her cooking. At times, they’ll include Dad in their thanks, but such speeches are usually centered around Mom.Think about it. How many times will a camera along a football sideline capture a player with a “Hi Mom” sign, or the same words written in eye black on the face.Mothers are very proud of their children competing, and many aren’t shy about voicing their opinion.Many years ago, speaking to a booster organization, I was asked who was my best source.“Easy,” I quickly replied. “You’re probably thinking I was going to say I would never reveal a source. But when a mother calls about her child’s unique achievement, and has that strong voice, you know she’s proud.”And it’s just not athletes who take the opportunity to honor mother; sports columnists can also do it. Sara Brewster, and my late father Louis, created a solid foundation that allowed their son to craft a career that started before the walk on the moon.Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and all the moms. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The NBA wasted little time slapping Barnes with a $50,000 fine, or $12,500 a word.Happy Mother’s Day.Bad timing by Barnes, made even worse by the fact that mothers are honored today. Barnes said he apologized twice and believes the air is clear. However, as long as the 35-year-old has played the game, probably starting before junior high school, he knows he crossed an invisible line by disrespecting a competitor’s mother.“You don’t say anything to anybody’s mom,” said Rockets coach Kevin McHale when his team arrived in Southern California. “If you have something to say, say it to the guy you’re playing against.”If that’s done, it usually results in a mano-a-mano showdown. Some of the best action ever — regardless whether it’s a field, court, pitch, rink, etc — has come after a “Yo mama …” insult. The line might be invisible, but it’s certainly audible.