Charles Barkley Rips Heat Fans, Says: ‘I Think It Would Be Great For LeBron To Go Back To Cleveland’

  • Rick Chandler

So a TV show called ‘Unguarded’ was pretty much made for Charles Barkley: he should be on every week. Alas, he will be on the CNN program only once: he did an interview with Rachel Nichols that aired Friday. Among other things, this bit caught some people’s interest:

In an interview with Rachel Nichols that aired Friday on CNN’s Unguarded, Barkley answered a question about his own lack of championship rings by questioning whether LeBron James should have ever put on a Heat uniform.

“I thought LeBron should have stayed in Cleveland,” Barkley said. “Just ’cause he got them rings now, he ain’t no better. Think about the notion that, just because I didn’t win a sporting event, my life is not successful. That’s gotta be the stupidest thing I ever heard.”

You can call that sour grapes, or a healthy attitude: depends on your point of view. One could say that Scottie Pippin and Dennis Rodman made Michael Jordan a better player, and that Shaquille O’Neal improved Kobe Bryant’s game. Or did they?

But Barkley’s bigger point was that he thinks the fans in Miami don’t deserve those two NBA titles. And maybe the Cleveland fans do.

“I think it’d be great for him to go back to Cleveland,” Barkley said. “Number one, I don’t think they are great fans in Miami. I thought they were great fans in Cleveland.”

But this Barkley quote, culled from the Sun Sentinel transcript of the same CNN interview, says it all, in my opinion:

“It’s interesting. People always ask me about the championship ring. And I never think like they think. You know, basketball’s what I do, it’s not who I am.”

If he’s sincere, then Barkley pretty much has it figured out. Was Dan Marino not a great quarterback because he didn’t get A Super Bowl ring? Oscar Robertson less of an NBA star because he didn’t win a title? Is the object to win, or to compete at the best of your ability? Defining yourself by the trophies you’ve won may work in individual sports, but in team sports it can be tricky.

At any rate, LeBron is about to become a free agent again, and personally I don’t care where he goes: as long as another ridiculous “I’m taking my talents to …” TV special is not involved.