The feud began Thursday, January 26.
TNT’s “Inside the NBA” spent Thursday, February 2, with the much anticipated broadcast. Viewers were awaiting to hear back from analyst and former NBA All-Star Charles Barkley. Would he apologize or would he fire back at NBA All-Star LeBron “King” James?
“I would have came in here and punched you in the face,” Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal told Barkley, during the broadcast Thursday.
Let’s start with how this feud between James and Barkley began.
When Cleveland Cavaliers finished 7-8 in the month of January, James told the media the team needed help.
“We’re not better than last year, from a personnel standpoint,” he said. “We top heavy as shit…let’s see if we can do something.”
“Whiny” and “inappropriate” were two words Barkley used to described James comments live on TNT Thursday, January 26.
James has gotten everything he’s asked for with Cavaliers opening their payroll to resign every player James wanted accumulating the highest payroll in the NBA right now, Barkley said.
“Does he not want to compete?” asked Barkley. “I love all these wild, punk ass reporters on television who is afraid to call out LeBron…he’s got Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. He want everybody…he want to be the favorite every time. It just pisses me off that a guy that great don’t want to compete.”
The following day a reporter confronted James about Barkley’s criticism. Busy playing “Speak Out” the night before, James had a reporter relay Barkley’s message to bring him up to speed before responding.
“Guys will do that for the ratings. It makes no sense to me. Ever since I picked up a basketball at age 9 I competed every single time,” he said. “You saw my Instagram…I wasn’t watching no damn TNT.”
Later, James opened up to ESPN about the whole fiasco. In doing so, took personal shots at Barkley.
“He’s a hater. What makes what he says credible?” asked James. “Because he’s on TV! I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that.
“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.”
The three time NBA Champion in his 14th season has never had my off the court issues in his career. Unlike Barkley, he has been a role model and cited that in his statement.
On a radio show Barkley mentioned he would not get personal.
ESPN’s First Take weighed in on the subject before this past Thursday night. Analysts Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman along with NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders made a consensus that James should have not gotten personal after Barkley’s comments.
“All the ammunition was there to go at him with basketball stuff,” Smith said of James, who has accomplished more than Barkley as an athlete on the hardwood.
Both parties were true, according to Sanders.
There was one winner in all this and it was Barkley, says Kellerman.
“What makes Barkley the best guy on TV is that he will tell you exactly what he thinks and he does not care,” Kellerman said. “This reminds me of Jay Z and Nas…I think Jay Z won that…[Jay Z] gave [Nas] credit for what he did well, admitted his own flaws and said ‘what’s that got to do with what I said? I still told you the truth’ and what Charles Barkley just did is, ‘LeBron is right about a lot of things he said, he did his homework, I’m not going to get personal back’ so you know Charles Barkley is coming from a place of his truth and it’s not personal…Chuck just won.”
In TNT’s studios Thursday, February 2, the ball was back in Barkley’s court. O’Neal began to laugh at Barkley when he tried explaining himself.
“People have left me a lot of messages on my ‘jackass’ phone. I have two phones, a private phone and a ‘jackass’ phone,” Barkley said of what’s happened after his criticism went viral.
I never get personal when criticizing any athlete, Barkley said. If the best player in the world is surrounded by two all-stars in Irving and Love than the star should take their chances with what they have, Barkley explained. Admitting to doing “stupid stuff” in his life, Barkley doesn’t mind James firing back the way he did. However, he explained he and James do not “have to be friends” and has no interest in meeting with James to clear the air.
Thinking he didn’t get personal with James was a mistake according to O’Neal, he said he got personal when he questioned James mentality as a competitor.
When O’Neal said he would punch Barkley, Barkley said “first off, you are not a good fighter.”
Perhaps, Barkley does not remember the brawl he and O’Neal had November 10, 1999. The Diesel had Barkley in a headlock.
By Gino Terrell