Corporate Influencers: Nike May Have Tried To Persuade TNT’s Barkley To Be Nicer To LeBron James

  • Dan Fogarty

Charles Barkley is a person who prides himself on being able to express his opinion.

Of former Chicago Bulls GM Jerry Krause, he famously said, “Jerry Krause must have pictures of his boss’s wife having sex with a monkey.”

Upon being sentenced to community service for throwing an unruly bar patron through a first-floor window, he told the judge, “I regret we weren’t on a higher floor.”

When asked if he had ever been to the governor’s mansion in his home state, Barkely replied, “”They don’t let many black people in the governor’s mansion in Alabama, unless they’re cleaning.”

So, no, Charles Barkley doesn’t strike me as the type of man who holds his tongue. Anyone who would try to get him to, it would seem, is fighting a losing battle, and only risks agitating him. Even if you were a corporate sports behemoth like Nike, and you were upset that the Round Mound was saying negative things about your most marketable athlete, LeBron James.

“These athletes today are all wussified,” Barkley said. “I’ve been saying LeBron’s been the best player in the league for three years. And I say one thing criticizing The Decision, and I get a phone call from Nike saying why don’t I like LeBron? It’s interesting how this shit works. These groups today, if you don’t say 100 percent positive about their guy or their team, they overreact.”

An example of Nike trying to turn the screws on someone saying mean things about an athlete on their roster? Or a harmless comment made in passing from a friendly Nike exec to Barkley (remember, he had a shoe deal there)? With Charles, you never really know how serious he’s being. Either way, he’s not going to hold back.

[Miami Herald, via CBS and Larry Brown Sports]