Charles Barkley seems to have finally settled the back-and-forth battle going on between him and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. On Thursday night, the TNT broadcaster sat on the Inside the NBA set and spoke his mind about the feud.
In general terms, Barkley came out by trying to explain that he felt he had never gone personal with his repeated attacks on LeBron, much less any other player.
Number one, I have no problem with what LeBron said. Everything’s not true, but most of that is true. I’ve done some stupid things in my life. That being said, I’ve been doing this job for 15, 16 years. I have never said anything personal about the guy and I am never going to. Ever. All my criticism of any player or comments on any team is strictly about basketball.
What I said was, if I’m the best player in the world — which he is — he has Kyrie Irving who’s an All-Star; he has Kevin Love who’s an All-Star; he has Tristan Thompson who’s a terrific player; I take my chances against anybody. I don’t need any help if I got those guys. That would be my personal opinion. I stick by that.
Him saying they’re top heavy? I’m pretty sure Carmelo would take those three guys. I’m pretty sure Russell Westbrook would take those three guys. But, like I say, I’m never going to get personal. It’s been fun to me, listening and watching.
I play golf the last two days and people left me a bunch of messages on my jackass phone. I have two phones, I have a private cell and I have my jackass phone for the rest of the people. My jackass phone has been blowing up. Thank God I don’t keep it with me, but like I say, LeBron is one of the 10 greatest players I’ve ever seen. He’s an amazing man. What him and his guys have done business-wise is amazing. But my comments were what I said, I stick by them, but I’m never going to say something personal about another NBA player.
Do I take exception to it? Ernie, I’ve done some stupid things in my life. I have to live with that. In our position, when you say stuff, people gonna come back at you. Like I said, every day, my friends, I have great friends. Number one, I flunked Spanish in high school, and I lost Jeopardy to Martha Stewart. He left off a couple things I had done wrong in my life. But like I said, I did some stupid things in my life. That does not make my argument less valid. Like I say, I’m pretty sure Carmelo Anthony is a hell of a player and would love to have Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and Tristan Thompson. Same thing with Russell Westbrook. But my argument with LeBron was strictly basketball related.
That’s not to say Chuck hasn’t said some boneheaded things. He’s said some ridiculous stuff about basketball, obviously, but overstepped his reach talking Ferguson and race relations in recent years.
It also might be a stretch to say he’s never gone personal toward any NBA player. He called the Golden State Warriors “girly” in their approach to basketball, some kind of odd attempt at applying normative gender roles to the act of 3-point shooting. He said LeBron should have called the movie “Trainwreck” — in which he starred with Amy Schumer and Bill Hader — “Trainwreck 2” after the Cavaliers lost in the NBA Finals in 2015. He called LeBron a punk after The Decision. His beef with Michael Jordan is long-standing.
I can’t remember if Barkley, to my knowledge, has ever baldly attacked current or former NBA player during his time as an analyst, and although the list above is all basketball-related I’d be hard-pressed to call them “impersonal”.
Anyway, it appears that Barkley has taken a shot at the gentleman’s way out while still remaining attached to his opinion.
Let’s hope the dust has settled once and for all. It probably hasn’t.
Shaq, meanwhile, had a moment of tension with Barkley after all was said and done: