I’m a big fan of Charles Barkley. It’s hard not to be.
Through his mistakes, trials and tribulations, there’s always been something so undeniably likable about the guy. The fact that his personality was paired up with such great talent, makes him one of the greatest stars the NBA has ever had and one of my favorite players.
As it turns out, Charles isn’t a fan (like a lot of older NBA players) of how Lebron James has conducted his professional business the last few months. He even went so far as to call James a “punk,” and say he was “disappointed” in him.
As many ex-NBA stars are, Charles is piling on the anti-James bandwagon.
It seems to me like Barkley is misled though; if anyone should understand the plight of Lebron James, it should be Charles.
Barkley’s comments about James make him seem jealous and insecure. Worried perhaps that James’ move to Miami and possible championship(s) may move James ahead of Barkley on the all-time NBA totem pole.
Their careers have followed similar paths.
Charles said that he’s disappointed that Lebron left Cleveland after seven seasons. That he’d like for him to have stayed there and tried to win a championship for the city that drafted him. James didn’t think Cleveland had the pieces to win. Charles didn’t find time to remind anyone that he forced a trade out of Philadelphia after eight seasons, so he’d have a better chance to win a championship in Phoenix. Barkley didn’t think the Sixers had the pieces to win.
Charles said that Lebron James made the wrong move by going to a team that was already led by someone else. That leaving to play with two other great players to win a championship wasn’t something that someone who wants to be considered one of the greatest players in history should do. Charles forgot to mention when he joined the Houston Rockets, they already had Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, and later Scottie Pippen.
Charles didn’t like “The Decision,” the one hour James special on ESPN. He suggested that players who want to be considered one of the best ever don’t draw attention to themselves like that. That’s not the way to behave. Odd that the guy who attempted to spit on a fan (which ended up on a little girl), threw a guy through a window, and was jailed for a DUI should be criticizing behavior. The same Charles Barkley, who once used a television commercial in which he declared he wasn’t a role model to kids, to sell $150 Nikes to those very same kids.
Like Barkley, James has had his life tried like a court case in the media.
James is a guy who has the basketball world wondering whether he’s good enough to lead a team to the promised land, the same thing that was once wondered about Barkley. Two guys who do things at their size that have never been seen before. Two guys who led their teams to the best record in the league, but ended those seasons without a trophy.
Maybe Barkley is bothered most by the fact that it doesn’t seem like James, Wade, or any current player today cares about the way it was. They don’t live by the same unwritten rules. They don’t care about how players from years ago think the game should be played, they only care about today.
After seven years in the NBA, the Lebron James story is only half-written. It seems like the only way Charles Barkley will be happy is if it ends without a championship and without closure, just like his did.