Are You Surprised LeBron James Finally Responded to Charles Barkley’s Never-Ending Criticism?
LeBron James may be one of the best basketball players in the history of the sport, but that doesn’t mean that he’s without his fair share of critics. Even though LeBron has done his part to silence those who have tried to criticize him in the past, it feels like for every one critic he shoots down, two more pop up. And no matter what he’s done throughout the course of the career—and this is especially true in recent years—TNT analyst Charles Barkley has been right there to rip him for, well, something.
In the past, Barkley has steadfastly refused to put LeBron on his list of the top five NBA players of all time. He has also criticized LeBron for teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to win two titles with the Heat and, most recently, he has spoken out against LeBron for using the media to try and convince the Cavaliers to add another “playmaker” to their roster. “Inappropriate,” Barkley said live on TNT when he was asked about LeBron’s demands. “Whiny. All of the above. The Cleveland Cavaliers, they have given him everything he wanted. They have the highest payroll in NBA history….He’s the best player in the world. Does he want all of the good players? He don’t want to compete?”
In the grand scheme of things, this was hardly the worst thing Barkley has ever said about LeBron. But for whatever reason, it really resonated with LeBron, and on Monday night, he decided to return some fire for the first time. He called Barkley a “hater” and then he took some time to bring up some of the skeletons that exist in Barkley’s closet.
“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” LeBron told ESPN.com. “I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying. All I’ve done my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”
This isn’t the first time LeBron has responded to something Barkley has said. But this is clearly the most upset he’s ever been when doing it. He went on to take shots at Barkley for being friendly with Michael Jordan during an NBA Finals game in 1993, despite criticizing him for being too friendly with players like Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul, and also suggested that Barkley “wanted to retire a long time ago, but he can’t.” It was an attack on LeBron’s part, and many people appreciated him going all-out with it.
It was sort of surprising to see LeBron be so vocal about one of his critics. He usually prefers to take a slight, er, pettier approach to seeking revenge on people who have spoken out against him. But LeBron isn’t getting any younger, and as he creeps closer to the end of his career, you get the sense that he’s going to start saying whatever he wants when it comes to dealing with naysayers.
So if you’re going to talk bad about LeBron, look out. Something tells us Barkley won’t be the last person to be on the wrong end of one of LeBron’s post-game rants.