For years Charles Barkley was the runaway winner in this category, but now he has some competition. Yao Ming played in a celebrity golf tournament in China and… he’s not good. Not that you really expect him to be — when you are 7’6″ there are a whole lot of things that can go wrong in your swing. But he’s not good. The stance is awkward, the club seems too short (can you say custom-made shafts?) and there is just a whole lot of badness.
But it’s for charity, so we’ll just laugh it off. And if you want to compare it to Barkley…
Move over Kobe Bryant, it’s time for the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan comparisons to start ramping up.
And at the front of it all — Charles Barkley. He is on the opening episode of NBA TV’s Open Court” (which first airs next Tuesday) and he says LeBron could be better than Jordan. From the Associated Press.
Jordan is considered by many to be the best player in NBA history. Barkley says he would never compare anyone to the Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion. But Barkley also says that James is “just bigger, stronger, faster.”
Let’s be clear — LeBron has not lived up to the Jordan standard yet. I don’t believe Barkley thinks it, I don’t believe even LeBron thinks it. But also to be fair, if you are just talking physical gifts, Barkley is right. It’s the mental side that has separated Jordan and LeBron’s career paths.
LeBron’s season last year was about as close to a Jordanesque season as we have seen. LeBron became only the second player (with Jordan) to win a regular season MVP, NBA title, finals MVP and gold medal in the same year. LeBron averaged 21.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. LeBron’s PER of 30.7 was around the number when Jordan was at his peak in Chicago.
Last year LeBron showed a mental maturity that allowed him to really start to reach his potential. And at 27 he is just entering the prime of his career.
But to be talked about with Jordan, or even the other all-time greats, LeBron needs to keep this level of play and winning up over the next five years. He’s not Jordan yet. He really never will be.
But let the discussion begin.
Video: How about some 1980s Charles Barkley flashback?
If you haven’t noticed, this week NBA TV has been running a lot of the show “NB80s,” which is essentially the basketball version of VH1’s “I love the 80s” show.
This segment talks about 1980s Charles Barkley, back when he owned Philadelphia and was a phenomenon in the league. As Chris Webber and others say, how Barkley did this at his height (6’6″ in shoes) was maybe the most amazing part of it all.
Fun little bit for a Tuesday night. Way better than watching more NCIS.
Quote of the Day: Magic, Barkley on huge Team USA win
“I want to congratulate the guys on their continued dominance in London. This is starting to look a lot like our 1992 Dream Team. I look forward to watching them continue to drive for that gold medal and bring it home for the USA.”
“That’s probably how many points they’d beat the ’92 team by … if we played today.”
That was the former Dream Teamers’ reactions to the USA’s 83 point thrashing of Nigeria on Thursday, via Marc Stein of ESPN. I’m personally pretty weary of comparing teams across generations, especially in this case, but I think it’s becoming clear that this Team USA could end up in the top 3 all time (you have to include the 1960 team that had Jerry West and Oscar Robertson in these conversations).
Of course, one stumble and this 2012 team falls way down to the other end of the list.
Jordan laughs at idea current Olympic team could challenge Dream Team
Jordan told The Associated Press Thursday that he laughed — “I absolutely laughed” — when hearing Bryant’s comments that the squad training in Las Vegas could take Jordan and company.
“For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done,” Jordan said prior playing in a celebrity golf tournament in Charlotte….
“I heard Kobe say we were not athletic,” said a smiling Jordan as he sat in a golf cart puffing on his cigar while waiting to tee off. “But we were smart. He said we were too old, but I was 29 and in the prime of my career. Pip (Scottie Pippen) was 26 or 27, (Charles) Barkley was 29, Patrick (Ewing) was 29 and Chris Mullin was 29. Almost everybody was still in their twenties.”
By our nature, people tend to romanticize the past. We think things were simpler when we were younger, that the world was clearer, when that has never been true. We also tend to romanticize sports teams from the past compared to today. We think the NBA was better in the 1980s and 90s than it is now — no, it is not. There were terrible teams and selfish players and horrific isolation basketball and terrible defense then too. We just tend to forget all that and focus on the good in our minds.
No doubt the Dream Team was a great team, one that changed basketball in a way the current team never could because of circumstance. But to suggest they are light years better than the current team is wrong — the Dream Team was flawed but their competition was much, much weaker. They never got tested the way this year’s team will.
I’d still take the Dream Team in a matchup, but it’s close. Closer than people want to admit. Including Jordan.