Charles Barkley never won an NBA title during his 16-year career. Though he’s certainly not thrilled about that, the TNT analyst is happy to say he never “cheated [his] way to a championship.”
That’s what Barkley implied he thinks current NBA star Kevin Durant is trying to do by leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder as a free agent and joining the Golden State Warriors.
“We develop this thing where you keep telling these guys, ‘Hey man, if you don’t win a championship, you’re a bum.’ I don’t feel like a bum,” Barkley said Wednesday on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike.” “I’m pretty sure Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and John Stockton -- we think we’re pretty damn good. We could have played with some of those other guys and kind of cheated our way to a championship. But there is this thing that started with this new generation where these guys feel so much pressure. Everybody wants to win.”
Even before Durant came aboard, Golden State had a trio of stars in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Plus, the Warriors were league champs in 2015, won an NBA-record 73 regular-season games in 2015-16 and defeated the Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference finals before coming up a game short in the NBA Finals against Cleveland.
Barkley compared Durant’s move to one LeBron James made several years ago, when he jumped from Cleveland to Miami to team up with fellow stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in pursuit of his first NBA title. After winning two championships in four years with the Heat, James returned to Cleveland in 2014 and led the Cavaliers to their first title this year.
“I was disappointed. I was disappointed like I was disappointed when LeBron went to Miami,” said Barkley, who twice demanded trades during his career in order to play for contending teams.
“Kevin is a terrific player, he’s a good kid. But just disappointed with the fact that he weakened another team and he’s gonna kind of gravy train on a terrific Warriors team. Just disappointed from a competitive standpoint. Because just like it meant more to LeBron to win one in Cleveland, it would mean more to Kevin to win one in Oklahoma than it would be in Golden State.”
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