Last week on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” former NBA player Charles Barkley called out ClevelandCavaliers superstar LeBron James for demanding his team go out and add another playmaker to the roster.
Barkley went all out, calling James’ comments “whiny” and “inappropriate.” The Hall-of-Famer gets in trouble for the dumb things he says on television all the time, but this time, he seems to have awoken an entirely different beast in James.
The four-time MVP unleashed an all-time rant about Barkley after last night’s 104-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, and things got extremely personal.
I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James said. “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 for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”
The details that James is able to reel off about Barkley’s personal life are astounding. But these comments definitely take any beef the two had to a much higher level.
Barkley’s comments about James were mean and rude, just like ones he has said in the past. But they all stayed relatively focused on basketball, if occasionally commenting on James’ character or personality. James does a full on hit job on Barkley s a public figure at-large.
The Cavs forward then addressed one of Barkley’s other common criticisms of James and his generation of NBA stars: that they are all too friendly and not competitive enough with each other.
Go watch the ’93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot,” James said. “Barkley and Jordan were laughing and joking with each other during one of the games while somebody’s shooting a free throw. In the Finals. But, oh, nobody were friends back then.”
Again, unless James practiced this diatribe at some point, it is amazing all of the details about Barkley he has held onto. It’s clear he has taken Barkley’s commentary about him extremely personally over the years.
The three-time NBA champion went on to discuss another one of his enemies from this season, Phil Jackson, saying Jackson has never treated him with respect.
But eventually he came back around to talking about Barkley:
I know he wanted to retire a long time ago, but he can’t,” James said. “He’s stuck up on that stage every week.”
“And if this makes him want to talk to me, the schedule’s out there,” James said. “He knows every road arena I’ll be in. Don’t just come up to me at All-Star and shake my hand and smile.”
Finally, James concluded with one last m,essage for Barkley, and another message for the entire league:
“I collect one paycheck from this,” James said of his role with the Cavs. “There’s the owner, Griff’s [David Griffin] the GM, I’m the player. Screw Charles Barkley.”
“I’m tired of biting my tongue,” James said. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”