You never know what you’re going to get with Charles Barkley. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer-turned analyst always speaks his mind. Sometimes, his comments are way off base, while other times, they are spot on.
Barkley was at it again as the NBA postseason began. This time, he was right on the money when he spoke about Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets.
Charles Barkley had a strong opinion on Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status
Irving refused to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and that decision played a role in the demise of the Nets. While vaccination decisions and basketball are two completely different things, Irving’s decision impacted his teammates. The seven-time NBA All-Star couldn’t play in home games most of the season because of his vaccination status.
Irving and Kevin Durant formed arguably the NBA’s best duo, but with Irving out half the games and Durant missing more than a month with an injury, the Nets crumbled. Once considered the favorite to win the NBA championship, the Nets needed to win a play-in game to secure a spot in the playoffs.
Irving’s refusal to get the vaccine didn’t sit well with Barkley.
“I think he really has to consider getting the vaccine because Kevin’s out a month, minimum,” Barkley said after a Nets loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in mid-January. “They said four to six weeks, so if we’re realistic, it’s a month. If he’s only playing road games, they could (crumble).”
After the TNT crew discussed Irving and his vaccine stance, Barkley had enough of the Kyrie talk.
“I’m not talking about this dude anymore,” he said. “I hope they lose, period. I hope they lose.”
Charles Barkley was right on with his prediction of Kyrie Irving and the Nets
While Barkley said he wanted the Nets to lose back in January, did he really believe it would happen?
Before Brooklyn’s playoff series started with the Boston Celtics, many still had the Nets as the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference. The Celtics were the No. 2 seed in the conference, while Brooklyn was locked in at No. 7.
Barkley went against the grain with a bold prediction before the series began. He made it after the Nets knocked off the Cavs in the play-in game to secure the seventh seed.
“There’s no way they can beat the Celtics,” Barkley said then. “They got two great players. They both actually played as good as they probably can play. Kevin Durant was fabulous with his passing and his defense. Kyrie was great. But other than that, I know they can’t beat the Celtics.
“All these fools on all these morning talk shows can let this ship sail. Both of those guys played great, great, and they barely beat a mediocre Cavs team.”
Barkley was right on with this one. The Celtics made quick work of the Nets with a first-round sweep.
What’s next for Irving and the Nets?
The talent is there, but the Nets are a mess.
Irving has a $36.5 million player option for next season. While he didn’t come out and say exactly what his intentions were, he did say he didn’t plan on going anywhere. Celtics fans remember him saying he planned on remaining in Boston as well before he bolted to Brooklyn.
The way he spoke, Irving made it seem like if he returned to the team, he’d also have some managerial duties.
“When I say I’m here with Kevin (Durant), I think that it really entails us managing this franchise together alongside Joe (Tsai) and Sean (Marks),” Irving said after Game 4, per Nets Daily. “and just our group of family members that we have in our locker room, in our organization.
“So it’s not just about me and Kev, I don’t want to make it just about that. We are cornerstones here, but we have a few other guys that are on contract. And I think we just got to make some moves this offseason, really talk about it, really be intentional about what we’re building, have some fun with it, and make it enjoyable.”
Would the Nets even want to commit to a long-term deal with Irving?
What happens to head coach Steve Nash? Brooklyn also has a Ben Simmons problem. The former top overall pick never played a game this year. He was disgruntled with the Philadelphia 76ers and seems to be the same in Brooklyn.
After the surprising first-round sweep and the off-the-court issues in Brooklyn, it’s likely going to be an entertaining offseason.