Charles Barkley can be the definition of a “get off my lawn” guy. He thinks everything was better in his NBA era, and now he can’t stand the way the Warriors are winning launching threes, or the way LeBron James is good friends with Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul. Because in his day he’s convinced himself that never happened back in the day, that he and the players of his era respected the game in a way this generation just doesn’t.
Barkley has needled LeBron James for years. Not just for the obvious stuff — the way he handled the decision to go to Miami — but for everything. That includes saying LeBron was “inappropriate, whiny” for saying Cavaliers need roster help this season to compete with the Warriors (even though what LeBron said appears to be true).
Finally, LeBron had enough from Barkley and unloaded with both barrels speaking to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“He’s a hater,” James told ESPN of Barkley following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 104-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. “What makes what he says credible? Because he’s on TV?…
“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James told ESPN. “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.”
LeBron also brought up the one time Charles Barkley lead a team to the NBA Finals, only to run into the 1993 Michael Jordan Bulls.
“Go watch the ’93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot,” James said. “Barkley and Jordan were laughing and joking with each other during one of the games while somebody’s shooting a free throw. In the Finals. But, oh, nobody were friends back then.”
Barkley’s appeal is that he’s funny and he is saying what plenty of people are thinking. He’s great in the barbershop atmosphere of Inside the NBA on TNT. Plus he brings credibility as a Hall of Fame player, an MVP, and an 11-time All-NBA player. The man also likes to hear himself speak and be the center of attention. His boisterous personality is part of what makes that show work.
But if you’re going to dish it out, you better be able to take it. Especially if you did more than just say you weren’t a role model, you lived up to that.