LeBron James and Charles Barkley had quite the ugly feud back during James’ second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. After struggling to find success with an underwhelming Cavaliers roster, James took his talents to Miami, where he won two championships with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. After four seasons with the Heat, the King packed up and went home.
There, he, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love led the Cavs to a historic title run that ended a longstanding championship drought for the city. The following season, he and the Cavaliers were looking to go back-to-back but struggling in the process. Without another playmaker, James wasn’t entirely confident in their chances come playoff time.
It was no secret that James had a hand in many, if not all, of the decisions the front office was making about the team’s roster. Given that, analyst Charles Barkley felt as though James was being inappropriate and whiny. With how accommodating the franchise had been, Barkley felt that James’ demands were getting out of hand. Naturally, that didn’t sit too well with the four-time MVP.
« I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that, » James said back in 2017. « 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. »
You can view Barkley and the « Inside the NBA » crew react to his scathing comments beginning around the 2:40 mark.
Charles Barkley responds to LeBron James
To this day, LeBron James’ response to Charles Barkley has remained one of the most out-of-character moments of his career. Although many, including Dwyane Wade, praised him for finally speaking up and defending himself, it’s not often James responds so candidly.
His references to Barkley throwing someone who threw a drink in his face through a window and accidentally spitting on a young fan were cold-blooded. Everyone from the « Undisputed » crew to NBA Twitter reacted to the response. Naturally, Barkley was given the chance to respond on « Inside the NBA, » where his co-hosts eagerly awaited his rebuttal.
Barkley looked into the camera and shocked everyone.
« Number one, I have no problem with what LeBron said, » Barkley said. « Everything’s not true, but most of that is true. I’ve did some stupid things in my life. That being 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.
« All my criticism on any player or comments on any team is strictly about basketball. »
The fact that the Hall of Famer chose to take the high road in a moment when he very well could have tried to fire a harsh response back was astounding.
Below you can view Skip Bayless reacting to the situation.