Fact: Charles Barkley is a clown.
Not a compliment. Nor an insult. Barkley’s post-NBA role on television is to provide a few laughs, speak his unfiltered mind (how’s that working out, America?) and grumble about how basketball was better in his day … you know, those 88-86 literal slugfests that always ended with MJ hoisting a trophy.
Barkley, now a host on TNT, has been needling LeBron James for years. He apparently took it too far last week when he called the All-Star “whiny” and his comments “inappropriate” after the Cavs star suggested his team needed to add another playmaker.
After a Cavs loss last night, James fought back. And he certainly knew exactly what to say — this was no off-the-cuff remark. This was a calculated, merciless takedown of Barkley’s reputation and character.
Let’s examine James’s comments to ESPN.
“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that.”
AKA “I’ve won championships.” Multiple. Barkley did not. Point: James.
“I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid.”
This one’s a bit more fluid. The window guy probably deserved it, and Barkley was aiming his spittle for a fan making racist taunts and missed (he also later befriended the girl). But here James is noting he doesn’t get himself into, to borrow Barkley’s words, “inappropriate” situations.
“I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas.”
Hit a man in his wallet. Barkley once told ESPN he lost $10 million at the casinos and was later sued for unpaid gambling debts. And speaking of lost money … you also can’t help but think of LeBron’s current $100 million contract, which, at three years, easily dwarfs Barkley’s lifetime compensation.
“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.”
Which reads: Barkley never took it as seriously (as LeBron does), so how can he complain now? James emphatically does care — about the league, the game, his team. Even an exhibition game.
“Go watch the ’93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot. 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 has accused contemporary players of being too friendly with opponents durings games.
“I know he wanted to retire a long time ago, but he can’t. He’s stuck up on that stage every week.”
“And if this makes him want to talk to me, the schedule’s out there. He knows every road arena I’ll be in. Don’t just come up to me at All-Star and shake my hand and smile.”
Translation: “You know where to find me if you want to take this outside.”
Your move, Chuck.
Just be cool if you get behind the wheel.
Photo: (LeBron) Keith Allison