It took an extra ignorant Charles Barkley criticizing Lebron James to wake me from my writing slumber, but I had so much to say I was moved to write this article. Charles Barkley stepped into a bear trap when he recently made comments about the long standing face of the NBA Lebron James. Not since Tiger Woods pre scandal have we seen or believed we were seeing a pristine athlete worthy of admiration and role model status. Lebron James is projected to shatter the billion dollar earnings mark and he will no doubt continue to grow long after his exit from the game. Charles Barkley has no understanding of the influence that Lebron James has on today's youth. Lebron James has invested in the youth in ways that other athletes never could or in all honesty would. Just ask the hundreds if not thousands that Lebron has promised to help with college education. What a tremendous and thoughtful gift. We aren't all 6'8 and 265 lbs but we all have dreams. Charles Barkley is from another era and he is lucky to have maintained relevance. I am a 35 year old male from Chicago Illinois who saw Barkley play and I have seen him talk. His play was incredible. His tenacity unrivaled. His commentary is lacking the spark that his game expressed. In this article I will dismantle Barkley's comments on Lebron James public statements regarding the necessity for the Cavaliers to stay improving.
The backdrop of this conversation is set thousands of miles away in California. It is clear the Golden State Warriors acquisition of Kevin Durant has sent ripples through the league. The average sports analyst has the NBA season already wrapped up and it's February. Stephen A. Smith sounds like he is about to have a cardiac event every time he talks about the waste of an NBA season. Meanwhile, Lebron James looks around and he sees Kyrie Irving, and..... Kevin Love I guess... I hear the crickets too. Charles Barkley knows this also, but somehow he doesn't equate this to the Cavs needing a quality backup point guard or another scoring option. He lectures James for speaking up about his frustrations. The comment that Barkley made about Lebron not wanting to compete is absolutely ridiculous. Durant, Curry, Thompson, Green, and Igoudala say that Lebron is a long way from competing. As a fan I could only wish for a player like James who demands excellence and success at any cost. Willing to take the social media backlash to improve his roster. Barkley can't fathom a player making demands to an owner. In James situation he put Cleveland on his back and generated billions for that city. He came back after his jerseys where burned in the street. He won that city the only championship it has seen in over 50 years. How much were the Cavaliers worth before James was drafted? How about now? The answer is 222 million in 2003 and 1.1 Billion in 2016. Charles Barkley is not taking this into account. If Lebron walks tomorrow the Cavs fall back into the ashes of mediocrity with the likes of the Nets and Kings.
Hypocritical much Charles? I thought you went from the 76ers to the Rockets and then to play with Hakeem the Dream in Houston? Oh that wasn't you? Maybe that was Robert Horry? No, Horry was the Lakers, Rockets, and Spurs. Oh, and he actually won rings. I need to get this off my chest for all the vets who try to criminalize young stars for changing teams or joining forces. The current NBA rules allow players to choose where they want to play once they have fulfilled the obligations of their previous contract. The NBA incentivizes players to stay by allowing the current team to offer the largest contract for the longest amount of years. However, if a player chooses to take less to win we act like that's a negative. If an owner wins with less we think highly of him. Sorry Barkley, Jordan, and any bitter players from different eras. The rules dictate player options and not vice versa. I can almost promise that if Michael Jordan could tell Jerry Krause where to shove it and leave for a few million less to play with a better team he would leave in a heartbeat. The reality is that Jordan barely made a few million per year for a long time. It wasn't until his last few years with the Bulls that he got paid appropriately. If the current rules applied during their era I am sure we would be hearing Barkley sing a different tune.
In the end we can't escape the fact that Barkley makes a living from making these kinds of statements and it probably won't stop anytime soon. However, the next generation is watching and listening. They might not be as kind to forgiving if he continues to burn bridges with the current stars of today. He is also burning bridges with players from his own generation. His public dispute with longtime pal Michael Jordan is well documented. The lesson that I think Charles Barkley needs to learn is that times change and we need to adapt. Charles better adapt quick or be phased out.