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Charles Barkley is NOT a Hater
When someone you know, or work with, is in a bad mood and you witness an individual being themselves toward them, that someone often overreacts and slams them without second thought. Ever said something you ended up regretting later? If you work, or have worked, in customer service, you know there various customers that are guilty of this (yet they're too much of a wimp not to apologize for their attitudes—you know who you are).
Saying that, we get a say from the King himself, LeBron James, who had this to say in response to Inside The NBA's analyst and former basketball star Charles Barkley whose argument about James didn't sit well with the King:
""He's a hater," James told ESPN of Barkley following the Cleveland Cavaliers' 104-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. "What makes what he says credible? Because he's on TV?...
"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. 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.""
— LeBron James
If I had time to refill the ink on my printer, I will print that, LeBron.
I was listening to ESPN LA 710AM radio first thing in morning of January 30, 2017, while driving to work (yes, seriously), and on Thompson & Trudell, Mike and Mychal went back and forth about this scenario between James and Barkley. Some I agree, some I don't. Then the gentlemen took phone calls, and first caller was some guy named "Danny" from Sherman Oaks, CA, stating he defends LeBron yet put Thompson on the spot for making a harsh remark about James during the broadcast airing titled ESPN Special: The Decision back in 2010. Thompson denied such remark, and while I'm not sure what Thompson said, we can give him the benefit. (What annoyed me about Danny's call was him rudely telling the radio hosts to shut up and let him finish. Hey Danny, get more toilet paper to wipe up and let the hosts speak BECAUSE IT'S THEIR SHOW, not yours.) Hoping Trudell went "Stephen A Smith" on him, the hosts took more phone calls, and a caller named "Jay" from Woodland Hills, CA, claims it's LeBron's insecurities making him act this way.
Finally, someone got it.
Since we're not on the radio, we're here on SPORTSSOTROS, so here's my take:
Ever since LeBron became a household name, when losing his attitude/temper, James' handling of certain situations can come off as unprofessional at times. Like all NBA analysts and beat writers have said, we've seen this before from LeBron. However, why Barkley? James realizes at the peak of his popularity, tons of things are being said about him—that's the catch being in the public eye, right? Would LeBron have responded to harsher sports talk show hosts like Stephen A. Smith or Jim Rome?
Perhaps because Sir Charles Barkley has had a small history of heavily criticizing LeBron, during his struggle defeating crazy-strong teams like Boston Celtics back during the 2008-2012 seasons. All this while having run-ins with players often trolling LeBron, like Lance Stephenson or DeShawn Stevenson. In fact, on ESPN radio back in 2011, when the Miami Heat reached the finals to square off against the Dallas Mavericks, Stephen A. Smith openly admitted that he wanted the Heat to lose because....he doesn't like LeBron. Even during debates with his former colleague Skip Bayless, Stephen A. almost never ran out of negative comments/critiques against LeBron. This 2011 video from ESPN's First Take is a perfect example:
Alright, LeBron, where's your reaction to what Stephen A. said back in 2011 (assuming you and your fans watched the video above)? Can't forget this:
"It is time. I'm tired of this man [LeBron James] being celebrated. For what?! WE KNOW YOU'RE GREAT, HOW 'BOUT WINNING?! WIN FOR ONCE."
— Stephen A. Smith, First Take (2011)
The Issue with LeBron
Simple: James has been very adamant, speaking his disgust to Cavaliers' upper management in signing/trading for key players who could help the team strike it rich with another NBA title. Many NBA analysts, including Sir Charles himself, wonder if he needs all of the NBA's star players. Is he really asking for Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and/or James Harden? Isn't that asking much, let alone too big an expense to make? Does his fear of losing to, presumably, the Golden State Warriors feel he won't repeat as a champion again, given the sports world will slam him on his losing? All this is what Barkley stated during his debate with Shaq and Kenny Smith. If you look back, nothing bad was said enough to trigger an emotional/angry response other than, "I'm just doing my job." Of all the things Barkley has said about various players around the league, past or present, some players jokingly respond with a remark that Barkley takes with stride. One's bad mood shouldn't react when someone is just doing their job, and this where LeBron should have let things be.
LeBron then responds using personal attacks against Barkley, and instead of talking about his game during his basketball career, James attacks Barkley with his dirty laundry: trouble-making run-ins with the law and his misbehaviors in the past. Just so you know of what James brought up with Barkley: That spitting incident was back in March 1991 in New Jersey; Barkley's role model statement was uttered back in 1993. I feel this is something to think about, given how kids are nowadays:
"I think the media demands that athletes be role models because there's some jealousy involved. It's as if they say, this is a young black kid playing a game for a living and making all this money, so we're going to make it tough on him. And what they're really doing is telling kids to look up to someone they can't become, because not many people can be like we are. Kids can't be like Michael Jordan."
— Charles Barkley (1993)
We'll get back to you on that, Mr. Barkley.
As for Barkley's compulsive gambling, that didn't come much to light until in 2008 when he failed to pay $400,000 in debt to the Wynn casino in Las Vegas, NV. With all that said, it's hard not to say something back and say so using personal attacks.
On ESPN radio, January 31, 2017, Barkley simply stated that he laughed at LeBron's response and won't lash back, personally or otherwise.
"I was laughing, clearly he did some homework...he Googled me & found some things. But I'm not upset about it...my criticism was fair & I'm good with that."
— Charles Barkley, in response to LeBron's remarks
Alright, LeBron, now what? Not even personal attacks can bust Barkley's knee caps. How could that be? There's one thing I admire and respect about Sir Charles:
See, people respect someone who is blunt and honest, but when that someone is honest WITH YOU, you dismiss them as jerks. Seeing Barkley analyzing like he does, it was LeBron's temper that did the talking not realizing how much other sports radio/TV hosts and writers have said about him. If ticking off Barkley was the plan, James failed, making him look foolish even with the attacks about Charles' personal life. Yeah, apparently gambling is the reason Barkley never won a ring, right LeBron? Thing with Barkley is he has no problem being honest, even with himself. When you're honest with yourself, you're immune to the jolts you feel when someone attempts to get under your skin (rude customers, anyone?)
Lesson here is, when you bash someone's remarks by using their personal mishaps they've committed in their lives, your argument is perceived as petty. Ad hominem attacks are usually frowned upon; It's like when your boss says you're late, and you say you're late because it was your boss' fault for being fat and ugly. Yeah, see? It's irrelevant and it doesn't work.
Don't forget, unless it's one-on-one competition, basketball is a team sport. If LeBron isn't putting in the effort to lift himself and his teammates up, then James is the problem. I, myself, won't work hard for/with someone who isn't going to do the same in achieving the goal we all want(ed). Not everything in Life is a given, and there will never be such thing as a free lunch. Want it? Go to work, plain and simple. Don't want to work? Then you don't deserve it. You're not entitled to anything.
Saying that, let's recap: LeBron is team captain, has the highest salary in the team, is a billionaire, happily married with children, launched his own production company, produced a few TV series, spoke out about his political views, has his own line of shoes and is, currently, a 3-time NBA champion. What else is there to complain about? That puts Barkley's role model argument into perspective because let's face it: what are the odds of "regular" citizens like us acquiring his status? We're only allowed to dream.
Or, maybe, he's been in a bad mood and shouldn't overanalyze. Okay, we understand LeBron but it still doesn't justify such uncalled-for responses in personally attacking Barkley, or anyone for that matter.
Watch your words, LeBron. Fans are listening....and may move on to the next superstar who isn't a lunatic.
1. NBC Sports - ProBasketballTalk: LeBron James Unloads on Charles Barkley: "He's A Hater"
2. ESPN.com: Charles Barkley laughs off LeBron James' barbs, stands by critique of Cavaliers' star
3. SB Nation: Charles Barkley has 'no problem' with LeBron James' response, but sticks by criticism
4. NBA.com: Charles Barkley responds to LeBron James' 'hater' comments