Charles Barkley loves to talk trash, and there are few players he likes talking smack about more than a guy he never actually played against during his hall of fame career: LeBron James.
Yes, Barkley, whose job as TNT analyst on Inside the NBA finds him commenting on the state of the game all the time, has never been shy about going after James for everything from bad games to calling the superstar’s decision to sign with the Miami Heat in 2010 a “punk move.” As of late, he’s been going after James for being, “Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above,” as the Cleveland Cavaliers star player publicly battles the team’s ownership to try to get the front office to spend more money on quality players as the team looks to repeat as champions. It’s just the latest round of James bashing by the NBA great who says the Cavs star will never enter the game’s peak along with players like Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
Except now James is firing back, bringing up some of Barkley’s more forgettable moments from his own NBA career.
“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James told ESPN. “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, obviously fed up with Barkley, was referring to the former Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns great throwing a man through a window in 1997, spitting on a little girl in 1991 and his “I am not a role model” commercial for Nike, among other things. For a generation of fans who maybe didn’t grow up watching Barkley, or those who forgot about certain incidents, it’s almost like James is bringing up ancient history, but James did it all for a point. It was LeBron playing defense. essentially the verbal equivalent of “The Block.”
“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.”
While the Cavs have had their ups and downs defending the NBA crown this season, James has made it a point to let reporters know that he isn’t holding back his thoughts any longer. That was made very clear last November when he went after former Bulls and Lakers coach, and current New York Knicks president Phil Jackson for what he saw as a racially motivated use of the term “posse” to describe James and his inner-circle.
Going after Barkley, however, James made it very clear that this is how things will be from here on out.
“I’m tired of biting my tongue,” he said. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”