LeBron James continued excellence further fuels discussions revolving around his status in the GOAT discussion. It’s led Hall of Famer Charles Barkley to slight James once again in comparison to Michael Jordan. Barkley’s comments didn’t take long to evoke a strong response from one of James’ former teammates.
Charles Barkley slights LeBron James’ legacy
Over the years, Barkley hasn’t been afraid to voice his opinion on any matter, especially concerning the NBA.
His remarks once again took center stage after a recent appearance on HBO’s Back on the Record With Bob Costas. The Hall of Famer voiced that he still holds Jordan over James as the greatest player due to the latter playing on stacked teams.
“Jordan,” Barkley said. “LeBron is amazing. What he’s done in the community is amazing. The reason I give Jordan the edge is, and in fairness I don’t even put LeBron past Kobe [Bryant]. Let’s get that out the way. I want to be fair. The reason I put Michael up there before those other guys. LeBron has stacked his teams. Let’s be realistic.
Barkley added that he has tremendous respect for other players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dirk Nowitzki, “going through the grind” of losing with the team that drafted them to eventually guiding the franchise to a championship.
“The struggle is part of your legacy, Barkley said. “What Giannis did this year and what Michael did when the Pistons beat the hell out of him for three or four straight years and he’s like ‘No I am going to keep getting better’ that’s the difference in my opinion.”
Since the NBA transitioned to forming “super” teams, Barkley remains vocal about his disdain toward that trend. James has been in the centerfold with several of those instances throughout the last decade of his career. He joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat, then returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers to play with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
It didn’t take long for Barkley’s strong take to receive backlash from one of James’ former teammates.
LeBron James scores passionate support after Charles Barkley’s GOAT criticism
Anytime Barkley slights James, it receives immediate backlash from other prominent names around the league.
Richard Jefferson quickly defended his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate on Instagram by pointing out the Hall of Famer’s career path.
“In all fairness Chuck is right. Lebron didn’t get drafted to a team with Shaq like Kobe,’ Jefferson wrote. “Cavs never found the Pippen in Bron’s first 8 years because he was too good they never drafted that high. Ps…Charles got drafted to a team with Dr.J, Moses Malone, and 2 other Hall of Famers. I see his point though.”
Although Barkley didn’t throw himself into the GOAT discussion, his NBA career benefited from promising situations. It began with joining a stacked Philadelphia 76ers team alongside Hall of Famers Julius Erving and Moses Malone.
Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant started his NBA career playing with Shaquille O’Neal, while James joined a Cleveland Cavaliers that struggled to find any consistency. He transformed the franchise into one of the league’s top teams, including reaching the NBA Finals with a roster that featured no other All-Star talent.
It’s a double-edged sword conversation that James will always fight an uphill battle to earn the GOAT mantle outright from Jordan.
NBA legacy remains an open book with the Lakers
For many, Jordan will always be the GOAT, no matter what James or any other player accomplishes.
However, The 36-year-old’s career remains an open book as he readies to embark on his 19th season. He also holds no definitive retirement time frame set. James continues to excel despite being nearly two decades into his illustrious career.
He has the opportunity to win more NBA titles and set more all-time records, such as becoming the all-time scoring leader likely in a Lakers uniform. James is no longer consumed with passing up Jordan in status but remains set toward creating his unique lane in league history.