Charles Barkley’s “get off my lawn” worldview that everything NBA was better when he played than it is now — see hating on the Warriors and their style — includes taking shots at LeBron James. Shots for being friends with Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony, and recently saying LeBron was “inappropriate, whiny” for voicing his belief the Cavaliers need roster help this season to compete with the Warriors (if you’ve watched the Cavs in the last month and not thought that, I worry about your hoops IQ). Monday a frustrated LeBron fired with both barrels at Barkley.
“I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying. All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”
Dwyane Wade had LeBron’s back.
Barkley went on the Waddle & Silvy show on ESPN1000.com and answered back. Here are his comments, via Rachel Nichols of ESPN.
So Barkley’s old flaws don’t matter, but LeBron’s do?
Also, Lebron is 32, he didn’t have to Google this like it was Civil War era trivia, LeBron lived through the Barkley era.
LeBron is the first star of the social media age and with that has come a level of instant and high volume criticism other stars did not have to deal with. Michael Jordan is unquestionably in the conversation for GOAT — and most people would give him the title — but can you imagine now NBA Twitter, or Barkley and the Inside the NBA crew, would have treated him during the seasons the Pistons were drilling his Bulls every year in the playoffs? Or when he decided to leave the game for two years to go play baseball?
Barkley is entertaining and certainly speaks for some people who have mythologized the 90s as a grand era in basketball, ignoring the clutching, grabbing, and dragged down pace of the game that made it a grind to the point the game’s skilled players had little room to operate. If that was your era, your style, then enjoy it.
But if you — or Barkley — are dismissing LeBron as not one of the all-time greats, if you seek to tear him down all the time, that speaks more to you than anything else. LeBron should and will go down as one of the most gifted and best players the game has ever seen. We should savor these players while we get to watch them, not constantly try to tear them down.