The one and only Charles Barkley somehow found a way to shade Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James while praising James Harden. It takes a special person to disrespect three NBA legends in one segment, but Barkley is one of the most polarizing sports figures, so it’s not that surprising he accomplished this feat.
While discussing how James Harden has looked with the Brooklyn Nets, Charles Barkley not only called The Beard the best player in the league right now over LeBron James, but the Hall of Famer insisted that Harden is a better scorer than Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan were.
Charles Barkley says James Harden is the best basketball player in the world
During an interview with Mike Greenberg of ESPN, Charles Barkley said James Harden, and not LeBron James, is the best basketball player in the world. It was a bold statement, considering Barkley used to refer to Harden as “The Dribbler” since he dribbles the ball too much.
“No disrespect to LeBron or Giannis or anybody, James Harden might be the best basketball player in the world,” Barkley said. “Period.”
In 38 games with the Houston Rockets and Nets this season, Harden is averaging 25.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 11.2 assists while shooting 46.3% from the field, 35.9% from beyond the arc, and 86.5% from the free-throw line.
Harden is a three-time scoring champion and one-time MVP. He’s nearly averaging a triple-double with the Nets, as the future Hall of Famer is putting up 25.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 11.5 assists as a member of Brooklyn.
Before he hurt his ankle versus the Atlanta Hawks, LeBron James was averaging 25.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.9 assists for the LA Lakers. The King is the best all-around player in NBA history, but Charles Barkley can’t stop marveling at James Harden’s offensive ability, so much so that he’s ready to call the 2017-18 MVP a better scorer than Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
James Harden is the top offensive player Charles Barkley has ever seen
James Harden is the top offensive player Charles Barkley has ever seen. The Round Mound of Rebound is even putting Harden ahead of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
“He is the most awesome offensive player I’ve ever seen,” Barkley said. “Listen, Michael and Kobe were better players from the guard standpoint. But as far as offensively, they couldn’t shoot 3’s like him, they were not as great as dribbling the basketball, going to the basket, and getting fouled. I mean this guy, every time he goes to the basket, he’s going to hit somebody and get two free-throws. He is an offensive machine, plain and simple.”
Jordan is universally recognized as the greatest basketball player of all time, while Bryant is ranked as the second-best shooting guard in NBA history. MJ won six titles and six Finals MVPs with the Chicago Bulls and went 6-0 in the Finals. Meanwhile, Bryant won five rings and two Finals MVPs with the Lakers.
James Harden has zero championships and has only played in one Finals. While there is no debating he’s one of the top scorers and playmakers in NBA history, he has to win multiple rings to be mentioned in the same class as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant are on the NBA’s Mt. Rushmore
James Harden has a long way to catch Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant in terms of legacy. MJ, LeBron, and Bryant are on the NBA’s Mt. Rushmore.
At this point in his career, James Harden has to win championships, as no one cares what he accomplishes in the regular season since everyone knows how special he is. To be mentioned with Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant, you have to win titles.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.