LeBron defends Wade: “Charles Barkley needs to shut up”

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Last Thursday, Charles Barkley sat on his TNT soapbox and said that Dwyane Wade’s game had taken a step back. Wade had just had a 3-of-13 shooting night against the Knicks, which came on the heels of a 9-for-19 game a couple nights before versus Washington.

Barkley said Wade was “starting to lose his athletic ability” and needed to adjust his game, to learn to play below the basket. He said it in the most Barkley way possible.

But the reports of Wade’s decline Wade’s decline have been greatly exaggerated. In the two games since Wade has 52 points on 20-of-25 shooting. He was at the heart of the Heat’s best game of the season Monday, beating the Hawks.

So, LeBron James, you have anything to say about Wade’s performance (via NBA.com)?

“It means Charles Barkley needs to shut up,” James said. “I mean, the man [Wade] is shooting 80 percent from the floor the last couple of games. That’s like, crazy, right? That’s why he is who he is. Unbelievable.”

Wade had off-season knee surgery, to expect him to be 2006 Wade out of the gate is a bit much. Wade has pretty clearly not been vintage Wade this season, the question is how much is age and wear and tear — few players throw their body around as recklessly as Wade, although he has curbed that some — and how much is his knee not being 100 percent?

Barkley isn’t wrong — Wade is aging and he is having to adjust his game. He’ll own up to that. It’s just that Barkley saying it bluntly on a national platform isn’t going to play well in the Heat locker room. They are going to defend their own. Plus Wade is still plenty athletic, even now.

If the Wade we see come the playoffs is anywhere near the Wade we saw against the Hawks Monday, Barkley is going to look wrong on this one. Not that he cares.