All the Internet detectives can put their magnifying glasses down ... Matt Barnes is ending the debate, telling TMZ Sports he DEFINITELY faked the ball RIGHT AT Kobe Bryant.
And, of course ... Kobe didn't flinch.
The debate over this 8-year-old NBA occurrence started when a Twitter user floated the theory that Kobe's all-time tough guy move wasn't that ... because Matt didn't put the ball directly in his face.
BTW -- If you don't remember the incident we're talking about ... you need NBA league pass ... BADLY.
We talked to Matt -- who was just thrilled to discuss it AGAIN -- and Barnes says he definitely faked the ball at Kobe's face and Mamba kept his cool.
"As far as I know that sh*t went in his face and he didn't flinch. I thought that was a dead story."
BTW -- If you want to hear about something IMPORTANT that Matt cares about ... he also talks to us about the medical cannabis initiative he's started with his alma mater, UCLA.