Poor LeBron James. He has enjoyed a pretty damn good career in the NBA, and life. He has turned out to be a business savvy individual and mostly been very much in charge of every facet of his professional career. So why take personal shots at one of the last great treasures, not just in the NBA–in the United States of America?
Charles Barkley is one of the last legitimate ambassadors of professional basketball. In my opinion, he came from the glory days, were men were men. They played hard, they partied harder. There are endless stories of Michael Jordan going to Vegas or Atlantic City, staying out until early morning hours, then competing at a high level that night. I’m not endorsing this, but it’s kind of amazing. Today’s players are spoiled and pampered. They are going up vs teams that don’t necessarily have one All-Star on it, let alone 2-3.
LeBron has enjoyed playing basketball as one of the biggest and strongest players in the NBA. He has not faced teams such as the Lakers, Pistons, Celtics, or Knicks of the early to mid 80s. Those teams would have taken it to LeBron hard. Imagine if you were 2-3 inches and 50 lbs heavier (all muscle) than most of the players you face night in and night out.
After hearing some criticism from one of basketball’s icons, LeBron was fed up when he brought up his leadership. In turn, he blasted Barkley for indiscretions he has had in the past–some 30 years ago. All of which were off-court incidents. Is Barkley proud of them? Probably not. Would he like to take them back? Without a doubt. Barkley evolved, matured, and grew into one of the most entertaining and refreshing voices–not just in the NBA, but on many social topics as well. Charles Barkley did not deserve this kind of disrespect from one of the NBA’s most pampered players.
No, Lebron never got into any trouble with the law, threw a bar patron threw a glass window, and as far as we know, paid up all his debts, and that is great. That doesn’t make you a great person, or a great leader. He did ruffle lots of feathers when he put on a production for ESPN, and in prime-time “took his talents to South Beach”. That is all in the past though after winning a championship with the team he left–the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now all of a sudden, LeBron seems like he can blatantly disrespect those who critique him. That’s where he’s different from Jordan, Barkley, and many others who have come before him. Those players didn’t run to a news reporter and hurl expletives. They just beat your ass the next time they played you. Sadly, those days are gone. There are very few “tough guys” in the league today.
I admire LeBron as a player, and for the most part, what he has done on and off the court. He has big personality, and some day, might be able to get on Charles Barkley’s level. Taking personal shots at one of the NBA’s great personalities though, is childish, cheap, and beneath him. If he doesn’t see that, I hope he realizes it soon, and makes a call to Sir Charles.