Charles Barkley is walking entertainment and the brilliant Inside the NBA would not be the same without him and his off-the-cuff opinions (which is a great thing in sports talk, not so much with national policy).
But he remains the leader of the annoying #getoffmylawn crew of older players who don’t like today’s game.
Barkley was on the Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM last week and went off again on the state of the game, (hat tip For The Win).
“People think us old guys hate when we talk about it. It has nothing to do with the Warriors’ greatness, LeBron’s greatness. But I’ve never seen the NBA as bad as it is, and I’ve been saying it the last three or four years. We’ve got too many young players coming out of college that don’t know how to play. It’s frustrating for me because I want to see competitive basketball.
“We took a survey on our crew … How many actual NBA teams would you buy season tickets for?” he added. “Four in the west and Cleveland obviously in the east. That’s not good for our league.”
To be fair, Barkley speaks for a lot of people here.
I think they are all wrong, but he speaks for them. And I think they are a plurality. Based on television ratings going up even as streaming of live games spikes (as someone who works for Comcast/NBC, I can say the in-market streaming of CSN teams such as the Warriors, Celtics, Wizards, etc. did well this year and grew faster than projections), as I look at the crossover appeal of Stephen Curry, the sendoff Kobe Bryant got, the popularity of LeBron James and Kevin Durant etc, the league is doing well by any measure.
But more than that, the game now is more entertaining than it’s been in years. Tell me how grabbing some guy on the perimeter, the clutching and clawing to slow the game down in the 1990s leading to 86-82 slogs, was more fun than the skill being shown today. Jordan was must watch, frankly Barkley was fun, but Mike Fratello’s Cavaliers teams? The Mavericks and Clippers of that era? I think Barkley and others look at the past through some Mr. Magoo glasses, but that is their prerogative. I loved 80s basketball. I liked 90s basketball. But to constantly dismiss the game today just sounds like someone clinging to the past.