Charles Barkley is Right About LeBron James

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time defending LeBron James over the years. Lately he’s been bitching about wanting more playmakers on the Cleveland Cavaliers. I think it’s just a ploy to stir up dust, something he seems to do just about every January (the last couple of Januarys) to light a fire under his team. No harm, no foul.

Charles Barkley said that LeBron is whiny; I agree.

“Daddy” (The Cleveland Cavaliers) told the child (LeBron James) he can’t have his toy. LeBron, who has a house full of toys, runs crying to “mommy” (the media) saying that “daddy” doesn’t love him. “Mommy” and “daddy” fight when the toy store worker (Charles Barkley) pipes in and implores the “daddy” and “mommy” to act like adults. “You spoiled that child and now he’s a whiny brat”, Barkley the toy store worker emits. “How many toys do you need kid?” And now the child is running to “mommy” saying that the mean man hurt his feelings. Just imagine what all the other parents (teams) and children (players) are thinking.

In all seriousness, why do we now have a society where the criticizer dishing out soft criticism is dubbed a ‘hater’? I’ve wrote about this in the past. I despise that word and I can’t help but view people saying it as childish or downright mentally ill-by-choice.

LeBron went on to Google some lurid facts about Barkley’s indiscretions and brought it to light. You can tell just how offended ‘Bron was/is, just by how emotional he is about it. He might just be the most thin skinned star in NBA history.

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Michael Jordan, Know Your Role and Shut Your Mouth!

Shut the hell up, Michael Jordan. Nobody should be listening to you. You were an amazing basketball player — probably the best ever — but you are showcasing your arrogance and selfishness. We all know that about you by now.

So nobody should care that you said you would never have called Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and asked them to join you on the same team: “There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team.'” Oh, really? “With hindsight” you wouldn’t make drastic changes to what pretty much everyone agrees was the greatest professional basketball career of all time? Shocking.

What about without hindsight? What about when you were 25, like LeBron James is now, and you, like LeBron James, had never won an NBA title?

“In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys.” But, presumably, you were not trying to beat future Hall-of-Famer Scottie Pippen, who was on your team for all six of your championships. Oh, and good job with the whole “trying to beat those guys” thing. Your 0-8 playoff record against Larry Bird is truly the crown jewel of your legacy.

Which brings us to Magic Johnson, who Jordan did ultimately succeed in beating, for his first NBA Title, in 1991. Magic, who just echoed Jordan’s sentiment by saying he would never have joined forces with LeBron James. Magic, who never won an NBA Finals without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time scoring leader. Magic, who won four of his five NBA titles playing for the man who just recruited LeBron to Miami.

Obviously Magic, who was part of the most storied individual rivalry in NBA history, would not have joined forces with Larry Bird. They had been rivals since college, when they played one of the most memorable national title games against each other. From 1980 to 1987, either Larry Bird or Magic Johnson was the NBA Finals MVP five of eight times. They faced each other three times in the Finals in those years.

As I’ve said before, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have never met in the playoffs. They didn’t play against each other in college. For the last four years, neither has had a decent supporting cast. Their situations bear little resemblance to the careers of Magic, Jordan, and Larry, aside from the fact that they are both very good professional basketball players.

It’s not that I expect Jordan and Magic to say anything but the thinly veiled criticisms of LeBron they’ve offered so far — it’s the job of faded stars to complain that this generation isn’t as tough as the last. But that doesn’t mean we have to take them seriously. Jordan and Magic never faced the decision LeBron faced, so how they would have responded to it is irrelevant — comparisons between these greats are doomed to fail.

As Charles Barkley said of LeBron (to quote one last former NBA star), “He’ll never be Jordan.”

That’s right, but being LeBron James is pretty good too.

Charles Barkley and Conventional Wisdom Part II

Thank you, Sir Charles.

Last week TNT basketball analyst and local bad-man-bang curmudgeon (even though his temper isn’t too bad, until The Jet (Kenny Smith) flares him up, then you have to watch out!) said in an interview, “LeBron James needs to shut the hell up.”

I’m sure you know why he said that. Everybody does. I would have only been happier if he would have said “ESPN needs to shut the hell up” instead. Obviously it’s about LeBron-to-the-Knicks and the hyperbole that is itself there. The LeBron James going to the New York Knickerbockers story has driven everybody — including me — absolutely crazy. I feel like being a cantankerous madman about this.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are a highly successful team this year, and the second best team in the Eastern Conference. The media will always try to deter that success from any team by some way or another. Since the Cavs’ feature player is obviously number twenty-three, the 6’8 LeBron James, the talk would be about him. Especially after the Knickerbockers completely swiped out their roster to free up cap space for the 2010 off-season.

Can’t blame ’em.

You gotta blame LeBron though, and that blame is for not keeping his ignorant mouth shut! His constant jargon that was involving the Knicks and how he’d sign with the team with the biggest possibility to win a title was a load of horse manure and a half! LeBron James will go to the team that will give him the biggest buck. Not too long ago he said he wanted to be the world’s first ever billion dollar athlete. He won’t do it in the NBA (Europe, anybody?), but eventually he’ll be awfully close.

LeBron, would you like something off the dollar menu?

LBJ: “Yes plea–”

Barkley: “Shut the hell up!”

Charles Barkley and Conventional Wisdom

Charles Barkley’s one of my all-time favorite basketball players ever. But he’s also one of my favorite entertainers ever, too. (NOTE: I don’t count him as a basketball analyst — most of the stuff he says is completely ignorant, and utterly irrelevant. The ignorant stuff drives me nuts, unfortunately. The utterly irrelevant verbiage makes me laugh my ass off. The second one is better. Therefore, I consider Chuck an entertainer.)

While talking about the Washington Wizards/Cleveland Cavaliers first round NBA playoffs series yesterday, Chuck said, “I think the Washington Wizards have got to be the dumbest team in the history of civilization,” regarding the Wiz Kids’ remarks towards LeBron James as being overrated. See, when I first read the quote on ESPN.com, I said aloud — in my very decent Barkley voice — the said quote. I chuckled, chortled, and nearly choked worse than the New England Patriots while I was trying to drink water.

I don’t know if he’s meaning to be funny or completely serious. Perhaps a confluence of one another. Either way, he’s right. DeShawn Stevenson has talked dirty words towards players around the league the whole year (or am I disillusioned?), especially LeBron James. And Gilbert Arenas has been writing some nasty smack on his blog the whole season, as well. Especially when the All Star game was rolling around. Great stuff from Gil, but now that he’s back on the court, and they’re playing the Cavs in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the third straight year, it’s kind of like three times a charm: LeBron’s going to go freakin’ crazy and instill magic upon the Wizards this season. Not saying he hasn’t done it in the past, I’m just musing the possibilities of what happened last year.

Speaking of what happened last year: I don’t know if the Wizards have short term memory or what, but while they were sitting at home watching the James Gang take on the Detroit Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they must’ve missed the mockery that LeBron made of Detroit when he scored, what (without looking it up), 36 points in the 4th and overtime combined? If he did that to a Pistons’ defense that had the poise of steady piranhas, imagine the destruction he could evoke on the Wizards come playoff time.

I’m a huge fan of Gilbert Arenas, but I can damn-well see this happening, easily, in one of the games:

LeBron James handles the basketball, as the Cavs are leading the Wizards by four with 54.1 seconds left in regulation. Controlling the ball, draining time off of the regulation clock and shot clock, LeBron looks to put the ball game away. Not looking for a teammate to handle the ball or even drive to the basket, James speed dribbles to the right wing with Wizards’ Arenas and Stevenson on his tail. LeBron pulls up with an out-of-nowhere 3 (remember when he did that to the Knicks earlier this year?) and nails it, putting the Cavs up 7 with 48.5 seconds left in the game, virtually putting this contest out of the way!

Believe it. Witness. Whatever the hell Cleveland fans like to put up on a billboard in their city. Barkley says, “you don’t want to make LeBron mad.” And Washington should know that. But, like children who don’t learn their lesson the first two times they’re spanked, it’s time for reinforcement and affirmation.