LeBron James said some mean things about Charles Barkley. They're all true

After TNT analyst Charles Barkley drew what appeared to be the last straw in a public shaming of LeBron James, The King fired back with harsh words of his own, tearing down the Hall of Fame power forward for everything that had gone wrong in his NBA career.

"I'm not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” according to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin. “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.”

James’ demolition of Barkley’s public image came just days after Chuck called James “whiny” for making “inappropriate” comments publicly questioning the front office’s desire to win a second championship based on a lack of roster moves made the offseason following their Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors.

James, in turn, uncorked and launched a devastating blow to Barkley, likely a culmination of all the slack Barkley has given him over his soon-to-be 14-year NBA career.

Let’s add some more context to James’ references.

"I'm not the one who threw somebody through a window.”

Barkley, indeed, threw a man through a glass window during a 1997 incident in Orlando where someone threw ice in his face.

“What [police and witnesses] said happened, happened,” Barkley said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “What he did was inappropriate. I'm going to defend myself. Let there be no debate. If you bother me, I'm going to whip your ass. The guy threw ice in my face, and I slammed his ass into the window. I'm not denying that. I defended myself. He got what he deserved.”

“I never spit on a kid.”

In March of 1991, Barkley had an issue with a fan sitting behind the Philadelphia 76ers bench. Chuck proceeded to launch a spittle at the fan, but instead hit an innocent little girl sitting courtside — a moment he said changed his life.

“I got suspended obviously and I should have. And I remember sitting in a hotel room, and I was like, ‘Dude, what the hell is wrong with you? What are you so angry about?’” Barkley said in an interview on In-Depth with Graham Bensinger. “And then from that day forward, every time I played basketball, I said, ‘Just let people see your talent. You don’t have to be mad at anybody else.’”

“I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas.”

In May 2008, Barkley nearly faced felony charges for failure to repay $400,000 of gambling debt to a Las Vegas Strip casino, according to AP’s Ken Ritter. He later overnighted a $400,000 cashier’s check to the Wynn 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.”

It’s not clear exactly which instance James is referencing. After all, Chuck made the team 11 times in his career.

But we do know he publicly campaigned for fans not to vote him into the 1998 All-Star Game and has a history of trying to get out of the yearly obligation:

1990 All-Star Game: Barkley tried to finagle his way out of the All-Star Game, pinning his need for rest on a “groin injury” he didn’t want to aggravate — an injury that later became a strained leg muscle.

“I’m going to play,” he said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “They gave me a play-or-else deal. They said I would be suspended next week if I play this week and miss the game.”

He played 22 minutes and scored 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field.

1998 All-Star Game: If there was an example of Chuck flat-out not giving a crap, this was it. Perhaps this is what James meant.

Barkley encouraged management not to promote him as an All-Star and told reporters he wanted to hit Las Vegas instead of traveling with the league’s best.

“We don't want any late surges,” Barkley said, via the Los Angeles Times. “I keep telling the Rockets not to make that announcement at home games, telling fans to vote for me, Clyde [Drexler] and Hakeem [Olajuwon]. I've already got my room booked in Las Vegas for that weekend. As long as the fans don't put me in, I know the coaches aren't dumb enough to put me on the team.”

After he was officially left off the fan vote for starters and the coaches’ vote for reserves, Barkley conceded the Strip was where he belonged.

"I think at this stage of my life, it's really better for me to go to Vegas and gamble," he said in a Newsday article by Shaun Powell. "I've been to 12 or 13 straight All-Star Games so I need a break now. I need a break, I really do."

Barkley, along with Michael Jordan, also skipped out on the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players Event in 1997, but were not the only players to do so.

"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."

We couldn’t find the exact foul line sequence James was referencing — after all, he is a scholar of the game — but we DID find a sequence from a 1998 Chicago-Houston matchup, where Barkley’s Rockets were shorthanded, lacking both Hakeem Olajuwon AND Clyde Drexler.

After a game’s worth of back-and-forth jawing, Barkley and Jordan playfully shared a laugh with one another.

LeBron on Chuck’s job: "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."

In 2012, Barkley told Sports Illustrated he wasn’t sure how much longer he could go on as an NBA analyst for Turner Sports.

"I love my job," Barkley said, via SI.com. "But I have four years left on my current deal, and to be honest with you, it's going to be a struggle for me to make it for the whole four years. I really don't know how much longer I'm going to do this. I need something more, or something else to do to be honest with you.”

But over the years, Chuck’s stance on work has changed. He signed a multiyear contract extension with Turner Sports in 2015 — a decision he said his agent never played a part in.

“The money at this stage of my life does not matter. At this stage of my life, I’m not concerned about money,” Barkley said, according to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch “I shook David’s hand and said, 'We got a deal.' I told my agent, 'We are not haggling or negotiating. Do the deal."

There’s also that thing LeBron left out
The defending champion landed a flurry of jabs and hooks, but never connected with the haymaker that would have put Barkley out for good.

Luckily, we’ve got the follow-up: On the night of Dec. 31, 2008, Barkley was busted for a DUI in Arizona after police caught him running a stop sign.

His reason? “You want the truth?” he asked officers, according to the police report. “I was gonna drive around the corner and get a blow job.”

Happy New Year, Chuck.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Dwyane Wade on LeBron James' Charles Barkley rant: 'Thank God he finally said something'

Dwyane Wade isn’t the only one happy LeBron James finally teed off on Turner Sports mainstay Charles Barkley, in ways that go well beyond D-Wade looking to support his fellow Banana Boat ballast.

That ship doesn’t figure to sink soon at Barkley’s behest, in spite of LeBron’s relative “troubles” in Cleveland and Wade’s altogether more unseemly issues with a Chicago Bulls franchise he fooled last summer. It won’t go down without a fight, as we learned on Tuesday when James absolutely went off on Barkley, rightfully characterizing him as hypocritical prior to, sadly, using the word “hater” to denigrate the Basketball Hall of Famer.

(Not because Chuck isn’t a hater. He is. That term should have been retired when Barkley was an active player, though.)

“When your flaws are a little bit more …”

Barkley also recently offered his own breakdown of the Bulls, relaying that only a higher power could function as a salve …

… but nobody, including Wade, seemed to take offense at that. The Bulls, featuring a front office that actually believed Wade (a Miami resident since 2003) when he said he wanted to vacation in winter in Chicago, are a trash heap of the highest order.

James’ comments and Wade’s defense, however, were a long time coming.

One doesn’t even need to dive into the Google-documented subjects that LeBron and Wade referenced – the barfights, the out-of-control loogie, the aversion to an offseason workout routine that left Barkley crippled with back woes when he should have been flying in his prime with Michael Jordan out of the league from 1993 through 1995 – in order to have history on your side when taking Barkley out of the equation.

Barkley hasn’t exactly entered Skip Bayless territory, he’s not dead behind the eyes, but NBA players have been waiting for too long to take shots at the bully. Players no longer need the draw of Barkley’s witticisms on air in order to lend credibility to a struggling league or a lacking night of games on TNT.

He’s hardly been witty in recent years anyway. Especially with Shaquille O’Neal’s addition to the show and “Inside the NBA”‘s move away from the lighthearted, and into the realm of the jock-toned sense of cruelty that is always just below the surface when those who actually played the game get to talking together about anything else but the game (which they haven’t watched) itself.

“Inside the NBA” wasn’t just a breath of fresh air upon its debut with Barkley, back in the spring of 2000. (He went full-time during the 2000-01 season.) it was startlingly perfect sports television, the perfect program to document the imperfect league. At its peak, no sports shows in television history and damn few shows in total were nearly as good. “Inside” was must-watch TV, even at two in the morning, TNT-time.

That has ebbed in recent years, as most great things tend to do. Not so much because the show is resting on its laurels after laying waste to what was offered as competition by various networks, starting all the way back in 2001-02, with NBC’s attempt at an approximation of “Inside.” Host Ernie Johnson Jr. would never let the show become complacent.

No, what it has become is mean, and not just because it stands as a reflection of the times.

There’s a chance this gets even meaner, and though LeBron was correct in his estimation of Barkley’s contributions, the “screw Charles Barkley” kiss-off didn’t exactly lighten the mood or raise the level of discourse. What it should do, though, is once again help us recognize the value of discourse, and the way in which Wade barely hesitated before offering a similar opinion should serve as clear notice to Barkley that James is far from alone in thinking the way he does.

Perhaps this will allow Barkley the space to explore why, exactly, he thinks and speaks as he does. Perhaps it will lead to more anger, more name-calling, and everything just short of what we typically see when aging jocks lock Skechers – two guys who could tear an Achilles in an instant all but coming to an old-man clench and tussling on the floors of the otherwise-pristine “Inside the NBA” studio.

For all we know, following a verbal career-off, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal already engaged in yet another wrestling match on camera. We wouldn’t know. Sadly, we haven’t been watching for a long time.


Fed Up, LeBron James Fires Back at Charles Barkley

Once again, a TV talking head, who is paid to make outrageous comments and drive up ratings, made some strong comments about a star athlete. Usually, the star athlete ignores or laughs off such comments, but this time he decided that he had had enough.

After years of criticism from Charles Barkley, LeBron James finally fired back.

Barkley, in his role as outspoken commentator on TNT, has been a relentless critic of James, dating to 2010 when he faulted James’s move to Miami from Cleveland.

More recently, he took issue with James’s stated desire for his Cavaliers to add a playmaking guard.

“Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above,” Barkley said on TNT last week.

“The Cleveland Cavaliers, they have given him everything he wanted. They have the highest payroll in N.B.A. history. He wanted J.R. Smith last summer, they paid him. He wanted 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?”

“LeBron’s a great player and a great guy, but this notion that he’s got to have all the best players on his team. ...”

Two other commentators, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith, agreed that James’s comments about adding a playmaking guard were “inappropriate,” but Barkley’s comments were by far the most incendiary.

“This ain’t like a 7-Eleven where you can go in and buy anything,” Barkley said. “They’re trying to make trades.”

James has mostly avoided taking on Barkley, but in a Monday night interview with ESPN, he finally let loose.

“I’m tired of biting my tongue,” James said. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”

“He’s a hater,” James said of Barkley. “What makes what he says credible? Because he’s on TV?”

“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James said. Referring to numerous incidents Barkley has been involved in over the years, he 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.”

He added: “All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the N.B.A. the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”

Barkley has not been hesitant in the past to feud with the great players.

He has said his critiques of Michael Jordan’s performance as chairman of the N.B.A. team in Charlotte drove a wedge between them. They were formerly close. He has traded barbs with the former forward Charles Oakley. After a back-and-forth over her husband, Dwyane Wade, the actress Gabrielle Union said that sparring with Barkley was like “playing Scrabble with a toddler.”

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