The recent verbal dustup between LeBron James and Charles Barkley gave the sports media and social media something to talk about, particularly the sports media gleefully weighed in on two black men having a public dispute. The disagreement sparked discussion videos, and articles which primarily focused on the inane topic of who “won” this exchange.
To briefly summarize, Charles Barkley, on the TNT post game show, responded to James’ recent comments after the Cavaliers’ 124-122 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, sans Anthony Davis, where he stated Cleveland, “needs a f—ing playmaker.” Here is what he said:
Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above,” Barkley stated from the TNT set last week. “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.
After getting wind of Barkley’s comments, James responded with this:
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.”
Say what you will about Barkley, his criticism was within the realm of basketball, he did not result to emotional, juvenile attacks as did Lebron. There were plenty of valid basketball based responses James could have shot back with, and as a student of the history of the game of basketball he would be aware of. Additionally, by taking this course of action, James turned it personal which gave the media another , unnecessary, edition of black men publicly beefing. Seeing the fervor that he responded to Barkley, I could not help but winder wonder where all this vitriol was for Skip Bayless who I feel has crossed the lines many times in terms of his criticism of Lerbon James. Additionally, the comments of Draymond Green and Dwyane Wade, both of whom should be old enough to know better, did not look to diffuse the situation, rather accede and kudize the way Lebron James handled this situation.
To answer the earlier question of who “won”, it was neither James or Barkley. Had Lebron responded with the considerable basketball ammunition that was at his disposal it is likely that would have made this far less of a story than it has become. It was not even Barkley, who despite getting blasted by James and some in the media, thankfully chose not to get down in the mud with Lebron. Rather it was the sporting networks and the associated media who got a juicy story to chew on for a few days.