Charles Barkley responds to LeBron James; Shaq takes issue

Charles Barkley responded to LeBron James Thursday in the latest chapter of the feud basketball fans can’t seem to get enough of.

Barkley, a Hall of Fame player and current NBA on TNT analyst, has never been afraid to criticize the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar and last week he made headlines when he referred to James as “whiny” and questioned his desire to compete.

 James responded to the criticism to in a fiery rant that made things personal.

“He’s a hater,” James said in an interview with 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.”

On Thursday, Barkley addressed James’s comments.

“I have no problem with what LeBron said. Everything’s not true but most of that is true. I did some stupid things in my life,” Barkley said. “I’ve been doing this job 15, 16 years. I have never said anything personal about a guy and I’m never going to. Ever. All my criticism on any player or comments on any team is strictly about basketball.”

The defending-champion Cavaliers went 7-8 in January, which prompted James’s “we need a [expletive] playmaker” line.

Barkley’s view was that James was being selfish and having the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson on your team is a luxury many other superstars aren’t privy to.

“My comments were, what I said, I stick by them but I’m never going to say anything personal about another NBA player,” Barkley said. “Do I take exception to [what James said]? I’ve done some stupid things in my life. I have to live with that. In our position [as analysts] when you say stuff people are going to come back at you…I flunked Spanish in high school and I lost Jeopardy to Martha Stewart. He left out a few things that I had did wrong in my life.

“I’ve done some stupid things in my life. That does not make my argument less valid.”

Barkley’s former on-court rival and current NBA on TNT colleague Shaquille O’Neal sided with James.

“Chuck made it personal when he said LeBron doesn’t like to compete,” O’Neal said before adding, “I would’ve did the same thing. I would’ve come right back at you. I would’ve came up here and punched you in your face.”

Added Barkley: “I’ve met LeBron James maybe 10 times in my life. We have shaken hands and said, ‘hello.’ We do not have to be friends. I’m not friends with most of these young guys. That being said that does not mean we have to say positive stuff about them all the time. I do understand they are really sensitive, today’s players… Anybody who thinks my comments were unfair, I don’t think they’re unfair.”

Article Written by Mike Johnston of Sportsnet