If you follow the NBA, or even watch ESPN, you know something unusual is happening. Lebron James is having a spat with the media, well, one media figure in particular. For perhaps the first time Lebron has went on record responding to media criticism. This criticism was placed by NBA TNT analyst and basketball legend, Charles Barkley.
The criticism was placed by Barkley after Lebron making a statement saying the Cleveland Cavaliers needed a playmaker. Barkley didn’t like the way Lebron went about it. He felt that venting to the media about roster moves was inappropriate. In full Sir Charles had to say
“Inappropriate, whiny, all of the above, the Cleveland Cavaliers, they have given him everything he wanted. They have the highest payroll in NBA history. He wanted J.R. Smith last summer, they paid him. He wanted [Iman] Shumpert last summer. They brought in Kyle Korver. He’s the best player in the world. Does he want all of the good players? He don’t want to compete? He is an amazing player. They’re the defending champs.”
Lebron took offense and, after staying silent about the media for years, responded. He bought up things of the past Barkley did. He said he was t going to let someone tarnish his legacy and that he had respected the league his whole career. James’ response in full
“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. 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.”
James even responded to Barkley saying this era was too friendly.
“Go watch the ’93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot, 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.” James challenged Barkley even, “And if this makes him want to talk to me, the schedule’s out there, 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.”
Barkley responded, laughing it off and standing by what he said. “I stick by what I said, I’m not going to make this personal… he was all whiny last week,” Barkley said. “… I’m good and I’m straightforward, I’m never going to get personal on an NBA player.”
When asked if Lebron made it too personal, Barkley shrugged it off. The response
“I was laughing, clearly he did some homework … he Googled me and found some things. He was young when I was playing, so I appreciate that, but I’m not upset about it … my criticism was fair and I’m good with that.”
Who is the bad guy here? Was Barkley’s criticism poorly placed and too harsh? Was Lebron wrong to cross the line like he did? This is part of the everlasting debate between the media and public figures.