Charles Barkley tells LeBron James to lighten up

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It’s the offseason, there’s a lockout, and yet Charles Barkley is still finding a way to get Miami fans mad at him. And they were plenty mad at him before.

Barkley went on Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable (a new show on ESPN2) last Friday to talk about whatever Barkley has an opinion on. Which is everything. But of course the Miami Heat came up in conversation.

Here is the quote (transcribed by Tom Haberstroh at the Heat Index).

First piece of advice you’d give LeBron James right now.

Stop taking himself so seriously. He’s a great, great player. He’s a really good dude. I would ask him to go and talk to Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan … those guys who are really great like him. Every person who’s a star or who’s famous or rich or whatever, should always go talk to an older person who has been in that situation.

Here’s the thing — as long as we can remember LeBron has been criticized for not being serious enough. He kept things light on the Miami sidelines (remember the team photo gimmick) and he heard about it. Now, he’s taking himself to seriously. LeBron cannot win. Wait, let me rephrase that: LeBron cannot win until he wins. When (if?) he gets a ring then we’ll hear him get praised for finally being serious or doing a great job keeping the team loose under pressure. Lose and he’s wrong, win and he’s right (that’s not just him, that’s pretty much every American athlete not named Barry Bonds).

By the way, we shouldn’t leave out that Barkley called Dwyane Wade “whiny.”

Have you done real damage to your friendship, to your relationship with Dwyane Wade? Is there real damage done there by your criticism?

Dwyane has become like the Miami group, a little whiny. You know, Dwyane’s a great guy. LeBron’s a great guy. They’re both great players. I’ve never criticized them as a basketball team. I did criticize them for that decision when they came around on stage, dancing like idiots, talking about how they were going to win five or six championships. And he’s a little sensitive about that, but I know I’m 100 percent right to criticize that stuff.