Charles Barkley was highly disappointed that Kevin Durant signed with Golden State and didn’t shy away from criticizing the former MVP for chasing a ring. In fact, Barkley said last week that Durant is “trying to cheat his way to a championship.”
“I want competitive balance,” Barkley said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I don’t want to have two or three good teams and the rest of the teams stink. Fans, they’re not going to be sitting around watching guys make $10, $15, $20 million on bad teams. The only people making money are the players and the owners, and we’re putting a crap product out there. That’s the way we’re going now. At some point, the public is going to catch on to the trick and say, ‘Why am I paying for season tickets to watch my team play? They got no chance of winning, and every guy on the team is (overpaid).’ That’s a travesty. That’s what’s happening right now.”
Barkley, a Hall-of-Famer, played in the NBA from 1984 to 2000. He was an 11-time All-Star, an MVP, an All-Star MVP and played in one NBA Finals, losing to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1993.
“We had five or six good teams in each conference,” Barkley said. “It wasn’t like it is today where all the guys collude to get together and try to dominate. We always had competitive series. How long did it take Isiah Thomas to get through the Celtics? How long did it take Michael Jordan to get through the Pistons? There was always competition.”
With so many stars in Cleveland and Golden State, though, the NBA will likely be shy on competition until the conference finals – or perhaps the NBA Finals.
“What reason is there to play the regular season?” Barkley asked.
Barkley, it seems, would have preferred that Durant stay in Oklahoma City and win no titles than go to Golden State and chase rings with a proven winner. After all, there’s a reason why LeBron James went home to Cleveland.
“I think he realized, ‘Man, it’s going to mean more to me to win a championship in Cleveland than it would be going to Miami with those fickle, fake, phony fans down there,’” Barkley said. “You could see the excitement in his voice (when he won in Cleveland). Winning that championship in Cleveland meant a lot more to him (than) winning those two in Miami. Kevin (is) a great player and a great guy, (but) it’s not going to mean as much (if he wins in Golden State). They just won a couple years ago and they just won 73 games. If he was able to win a championship in Oklahoma City, it would have meant much more.”
Barkley, however, is not willing to hand the Warriors the title next season.
“Not even close,” he said. “I said if they had won a championship this year, I would get down on my knees and say they got a great, great team. But what I said from the beginning – and it held up and Oscar (Robertson) said it – was let’s see how these guys hold up in a seven-game series after two or three wars. Would they still be making all those jump shots? And they were not able to hold up. So anytime everybody wants to tell me and Oscar we were right, feel free. But I’m not willing to give them the torch yet. I still think you can pound them down low. I think you got to go at Steph Curry. I would go at Steph Curry every single time and wear his legs down. I would pound them down low. They’re still going to have some the same issues. Are they great offensively? Yes, they are. But they put all them little leprechauns out there. I want to see how they handle LaMarcus (Aldridge) down low, Pau Gasol down low and Kawhi Leonard. I’m looking forward to that matchup, and don’t sleep on the Clippers. (The Warriors are) not going to have a cake walk to the Finals. Let’s get that straight.”
Some people, of course, are calling Barkley hypocritical for criticizing Durant when he chased a ring with the Rockets in the late-1990s.
Only Barkley didn’t chase a ring with Houston – or any organization.
“I got traded to Houston,” he said. “I didn’t ask to go to Houston. I never asked to go to Houston. I’ve heard that several times like I was chasing a ring. I never chased a ring. I got out of Philly because they were a bad organization. They traded the No. 1 pick in the draft, Brad Daugherty, so I got traded to Phoenix. That was the only time I demanded a trade. But the Suns traded me to Houston. I wasn’t chasing a ring. This ain’t like the mafia or Jerry Maguire where this thing completes me. I was a heck of a player, I didn’t win it, I’m cool with that. I never played on the best team. But this notion that I chased a ring in Houston – they traded me to Houston. I didn’t say, ‘Let me go play with old Clyde and old Hakeem.’ That’s 100 percent not true.”