On Wednesday night, Charles Barkley said that the Hawks needed to take out a Cavs player if they wanted to win their Eastern Conference Semifinals series. A number of people got upset about that comment, and one of them was Cavs coach Tyronn Lue.
Lue called out Barkley for his comment on Thursday during a conference call.
“I don’t think there’s any place in our game to take someone out if they’re playing well,” Lue said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “I think you can take it upon yourself to play harder and do things to stop it or stop a team from playing well.
“But when it gets into trying to hurt guys or trying to take guys out, that’s just not right. Hopefully the referees will keep an eye on it and make sure it’s a clean game. We don’t mind if it’s a physical game, but clean and everything that they do and we do is basketball-related. I don’t believe in taking guys out and trying to hurt guys because a team or a player is playing well.”
I really don’t think Barkley was suggesting that the Hawks should try to bust the knees of Cavs players, even though that’s how it came out. That said, Lue was understandably defensive over Barkley’s insinuation that’s what would need to happen for the Hawks to compete in the rest of the series. I highly doubt the Hawks would go that route, and if they did, the officials would likely be right on top of the action ready to hand out punishment.
But hey, good on Lue for publicly defending his players, even if they weren’t necessarily at risk. Game 3 is Friday night on ESPN, and we’ll see if the Hawks actually took Barkley’s suggestion seriously or if they’re not even considering it.