Blogtable: Thoughts on LeBron James vs. Charles Barkley feud?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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Much has been made about the verbal spat between LeBron James and Charles Barkley. What say you?
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David Aldridge: LeBron’s entitled to hit back when someone publicly chastises him, and his body of work as a player speaks for itself. But he should have kept it to basketball. If he wanted to say, “I’ll compare my three rings to Chuck’s…zero,” or “I remember Chuck complaining about the talent he had to play with, like Shelton Jones,” or something like that, I would have had absolutely no problem with it. He wasn’t wrong factually in listing where the Chuckster came up short. The response just seemed a little overheated considering LBJ is the one with the unimpeachable pedigree as a player. Still, I’m sympathetic that LeBron feels like he always has to hold his tongue; if coming strong to the mike was cathartic for him, I understand it even as I disagree with the vehemence of his tone.
Steve Aschburner: Charles Barkley is the most entertaining NBA personality ever. And in his role as studio analyst, if he weren’t coming with strong opinions, he’d just be a guy who says “First of all …” two or three times while making boring points. Losing eight games in January probably made LeBron James cranky, so he went off on Charles, but the criticism last week was legit. Having a top-heavy roster is supposed to be a good thing — the more stars, the merrier — and if their championship aspirations swing on Matthew Dellavedova’s departure, that should have been fixed in the summer. It was fair, I suppose, to remind people that Barkley was no saint or even model employee during his playing days. But enough with the “hater” cliché, OK? It has been stretched to cover so many alleged transgressions as to be meaningless.
Fran Blinebury: I have steadfastly stood up for LeBron as clearly the best player of his generation, a splendid hybrid of a talent who plays the right way. That said, he’s also a premier diva and whiner who has hopscotched from Cleveland to Miami and back again with expediency. Charles is right. LeBron did cry out for Tristan Thompson to get paid in 2015 and J.R. Smith to get paid big last summer. He did push Dan Gilbert to pay the highest tax bill last season and again has the highest payroll again this season. Is Barkley a pot-stirrer? Yes. Is James an all-time complainer. Yes.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Whatever. Good for Chuck for saying what he believes from a Hall of Famers special platform and good for LeBron for firing back if he felt like responding. But it means nothing. It’s fun for the TV chat shows and all that, and that’s it. What matters is the Cavaliers trying to defend a title. James throwing darts at the front office was important. This isn’t.
Shaun Powell: Is it possible Barkley was both right and wrong in his assessment? LeBron has no reason to blast the Cavs’ management about players; they’ve given him Kevin Love and added Channing Frye, Kyle Korver, overpaid for Tristan Thompson upon LeBron’s orders and then re-signed J.R. Smith, also on LeBron’s request. That said, Barkley was dead wrong about LeBorn not being a top-five player. That’s just silly and petty. These two have galactic egos and obviously LeBron’s was bruised.
John Schuhmann: I don’t make much of it. Both had legit points and both went a little over the line, but I side more with James. Barkley has a point that James shouldn’t be calling out management (in public, at least). James’ passive-aggressive act in regard to how his team is run or coached has gotten old and he should understand that when you want to play with other stars, you run the risk of having a team that lacks depth. But questioning his willingness to compete is as silly as saying the James will never be one of the top five players of all time. James certainly had the right to respond.
Sekou Smith: I don’t like it. I don’t like the back-and-forth between two guys you can’t tell the story of the NBA without featuring prominently. They should be above this foolishness. It’s not a matter of whose opinion is right or wrong, because that’s all it is right now — opinions. Barkley’s critique of James and his public insistence that the Cavaliers get him a “playmaker” and do something with that 15th roster spot is fine. Questioning his competitive fire, however, is more than a little disingenuous. How quickly we forget Chuck. LeBron’s clap back was a little much, needling Chuck for his off-court antics during his playing days and the like. Both LeBron and Charles should be secure in what they’ve accomplished in their respective careers and have no need to snipe at one another from afar. This is just yet another sideshow in a season full of them … and we’re not even at the All-Star break yet. Just leave each other alone.
Ian Thomsen: Isn’t James entitled to defend himself? He has many reasons to be proud and has earned the right to point them out. As for Charles, no one should feel sorry for him — we all know he can take a punch, and this gives him and the team in Atlanta more to discuss.
Lang Whitaker: Wanna get away? Feels like LeBron (and the Bulls and Melo and several other teams/players) could use that week-long All-Star break right about now. Regarding Chuck and LeBron, I have a concept that might be novel in this day and age, but perhaps parts of what both guys said can be correct? I think back to “Fletch,” when the titular character is discussing a story with his editor.
Frank Walker: Who’s the source?
Fletch: Well, there we’re in kind of a “grey” area.
Frank Walker: How grey?
Charles and LeBron both have opinions and feelings, and parts of what each of them said may be more or less truthful. We love for things to be either clearly right or wrong, but there can be shades to this stuff. The truth is out there, somewhere. (Alternative facts included.)
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