Charles Barkley doesn’t deny the fact that he chased a championship when he joined a Big Three of his own with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in Houston at the tail end of his career. He also knows that the fact that he never won a championship is the favorite argument of most of his critics. On the heels of LeBron James’ decision to head to Miami to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Barkley is making it clear that he’s happy he went to Houston in an effort to win a ring. He’s also making it crystal clear that he’s glad he didn’t do that early on his career. And that he doesn’t agree with the way James used a television special to announce his decision … and that he believes Dan Gilbert and Jesse Jackson should shut their mouths. … Not that Barkley has ever had an opinion or anything.
Charles Barkley joined 790 the Ticket in Miami with the Dan LeBatard Show to blast the way LeBron James made his decision and the way Dan Gilbert reacted to it, to compare James to Michael Jordan and to defend his late-career move to Houston.
On his issues with LeBron James’ decision:
“I think that, number one, LeBron can go where he wants to. I had a couple of problems about the special. Thank God I was in Canada and didn’t have to watch it, I thought that was stupid. I thought he should have told the Cavaliers in advance. And third, I think this thing has been planned all along and that’s the only thing that really disturbs me.”
On Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert’s reactionary letter to Cavaliers fans:
“That was over the top. I mean, c’mon. His homecoming queen dumped him at the prom. You know he’s going to overreact. It was stupid, but like I don’t go overboard. We all say things in the heat of the moment. I think what him and Jesse Jackson said both are just stupid. … I think him and Jesse both need to shut the hell up.”
On Gilbert bailing out LeBron:
“Dan Gilbert bailed him out by being an idiot. His overreaction and using some of the language he used, he let LeBron off the hook. I haven’t talked to anybody, not one person … who felt like LeBron handled it the right way. They have no problem with him leaving Cleveland, but just the way he handled the whole thing.”
On whether James can ever compare to Michael Jordan:
“He’ll never be Jordan. This clearly takes him out of the conversation. He can win as much as he wants to. There would have been something honorable about staying in Cleveland and trying to win it as the man. … LeBron, if he would’ve in Cleveland, and if he could’ve got a championship there, it would have been over the top for his legacy, just one in Cleveland. No matter how many he wins in Miami, it clearly is Dwyane Wade’s team.”
On whether super teams are good or bad for the NBA:
“I think it shows that those guys don’t want that pressure. Part of my legacy is I didn’t win a championship and I just have to live with that. It is what it is. Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing, that’s part of their legacy. But what I’ve said all along, when there’s two guys who are primetime players, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the rest of these guys are just trying to piggy-back on other people. … There were two guys that could change your franchise for the next 10 years and that was Dwyane and that was LeBron. … They’re going to be playing together and it’s going to be fun to watch. … But there would have been something honorable about LeBron staying in Cleveland, trying to bring the first championship since 1963 or 64 to that city. There would’ve something really cool about that. And let’s quit faking it, those fans in Miami ain’t the best fans in the world.”
On whether LeBron taking less money is unselfish or leaving Cleveland is selfish:
“There is some truth to [being unselfish by taking less money] but unselfish would have been saying, ‘You know what? I was born here in Cleveland, these people deserve a championship and I’m the guy who can bring that to them.’ Going to Miami, there is something to be said about that, but let me just tell you something, the whole other end of that spectrum is, if he could’ve brought a championship to Cleveland, that’s totally different than bring a championship to Miami.”
On his chasing of a championship when he went to Houston late in his career:
“It’s alright to do that late in your career. I’ve been consistent. When you get 35 and you’re trying to chase it, that’s totally different. I wouldn’t have been chasing it at 25. I wanted to compete against Michael Jordan and Karl Malone and those guys when I was 25. If LeBron was 35 or 36, it would’ve been totally different.”