LeBron James and Charles Barkley continued exchanging jabs on Tuesday, after James went on a rant against Barkley, calling him a “hater” – a rant which was prompted by Barkley. The former NBA star responded to James on ESPN Radio’s Waddle & Silvy show, saying, “I stick by what I said, I’m not going to make this personal … he was all whiny last week.”
Last week, Barkley said James was “inappropriate” and “whiny,” after the three-time champion called on the Cavs’ front office to bring in another veteran playmaker.
It wasn’t the first time Barkley criticized the Cavs star. Over the summer Barkley told Bill Simmons that James would “never” be in the top-five NBA great, and in 2010 Barkley called his decision to leave Cleveland and join the Miami Heat a “punk move.”
This time, James had had enough. He told ESPN:
“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.”
James got personal. But it didn’t seem to bother Barkley, who laughed it off, telling Waddle and Silvy that “clearly he did some homework … he Googled me and found some things.”
Barkley continued to say that some of incidents and things James said were “correct,” but it “doesn’t make the message I said about him incorrect.”
James’ former teammate and friend, Dwyane Wade, came to his defense, saying of Barkley that, “when you have a history, when you can go and google your history, you better be a little careful with what you say.” He continued to say Barkley and guys who “get a microphone in front of their face, they just talk and talk and talk and forget about their history.”
Wade capped off his email rant with an interesting note: “[LeBron] said there’s a new sheriff in town. So I’m excited to see what’s next.”
But feuds such as this one aren’t uncommon in the NBA. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who is known for being outspoken, had a very public feud with Kevin Durant back in October, 2015. Smith warned Durant, and other players, that “You don’t want to make an enemy out of me” after the now Golden State star claimed the broadcaster was “lying,” when he reported that Durant may be considering a move to the Lakers.
This is nothing new, player versus broadcaster, player versus player, or player versus coach. We’ve gotten used to the back and forth banter, and if we’re being honest, we sort of love it.