NBA legend Charles Barkley would likely take issue with anyone who dared to call him a “bully.”
Barkley and his Inside the NBA colleagues often draw criticism, from active players to media members, for being too critical of those currently in the league. It is usually Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal who receive those accusations.
In a recent interview, Barkley addressed the notion that Inside the NBA is too negative about NBA superstars. That interview also allowed Barkley to send a stern message to those who believe that idea.
Charles Barkley and the Inside the NBA crew can get harsh
For years, TNT’s Inside the NBA has served as one of the most popular studio shows in sports.
However, the group of Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal have received more criticism as time has gone on. Fans and media members have accused the show of being overly rude and critical when discussing current players.
Those allegations only increase when the show conducts postgame interviews. Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell each had uncomfortable on-air appearances since the season started in late-December.
Notably, O’Neal told Mitchell that he didn’t believe the All-Star had “what it takes to get to the next level.”
Charles Barkley addressed those criticisms in a recent interview
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Charles Barkley has strong words for anyone who believes Inside the NBA goes too far in its interviews and criticisms.
In a recent interview with The Athletic, Barkley disagreed with the idea that those on Inside the NBA intentionally try to target current players and focus only on the negatives.
“Who have we been hard on? Paul George? He was awful in the bubble (during the playoffs). I’m just making a point. KD is one of the greatest ever, but until he wins a championship where he’s the No. 1 guy, he’s gonna face that criticism. And you know what? It was the same criticism LeBron went through, and LeBron didn’t act like no punk. (He was like) ‘Hey listen, I joined a superteam (in Miami), and until I went back to Cleveland, I feel like that was the first championship where I was the guy.’ And that’s fair.”
Barkley’s comments came a few days after Kevin Durant and LeBron James each criticized the Inside the NBA crew.
“Them old heads need to go enjoy retirement,” Durant wrote on Instagram, according to The Athletic. “These boys have coaches they work with everyday lol.”
James took a different stance.
“There’s a difference between constructive criticism and soft hating though,” James wrote. “I’ve seen it both ways come my way, mostly the hate. You can hear it in their delivery.”
Don’t expect Inside the NBA to change its tone
The trio of Barkley, O’Neal, and Smith are former players, while Johnson is a veteran host and announcer. They do not sugarcoat their opinions or lie to appease the NBA or Turner Sports.
Barkley and O’Neal are two of the greatest big men in NBA history. Smith had a solid playing career and won two NBA championships.
It helps to have players who have been in others’ shoes before. Barkley and O’Neal can relate to the superstars because they themselves were perennial MVP candidates in their playing days.
Active NBA players won’t like to hear it, but Barkley and O’Neal — and the rest of Inside the NBA — have no reason to change their tone. Unless, of course, the NBA itself begins intervening and brings money into the conversation.