Hot takes from Feb. 17-23.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes! Everyone has a fiery take these days; here are some of the hottest from sports media figures for the week of Feb. 17 – 23.

5. Charles Barkley blames DeMarcus Cousins for the Kings’ lack of success: On The Dan Patrick Show Thursday, Barkley went on another rant about DeMarcus Cousins, one of his favorite targets. Here’s what he said:

“What makes you think you can build around Boogie Cousins? …First of all, Boogie Cousins got a tremendous amount of talent. I think he’s one of the most talented big men I’ve ever seen. But let me tell you something: Dan, if your team never wins, you have to take some responsibility. You can’t pass the buck to [the] Sacramento Kings.” And then, when Patrick asked about the Kings’ poor management, Barkley went on a further blame-Cousins diatribe:

“You don’t think he had nothing to do with that?” Barkley asked. “The reason they kept firing coaches is he kept getting them fired. Secondly, let me ask you a question: Everybody talks about all the bad players on their team; do you think if he was a better leader, those guys would have been better?”

Maybe Barkley should take a look in the mirror; he played on plenty of teams where he didn’t have good management or enough help, and he didn’t get overly blamed for that. But somehow the Kings’ struggles are all Cousins’ fault, despite them trading away the likes of Hassan Whiteside and Isaiah Thomas and wasting top picks. Right.

Rating: ***

4. Skip Bayless doesn’t think Bill Belichick is a great coach: Bill Belichick may have seven Super Bowl rings overall and five as a head coach, but that’s not enough to earn the admiration of Skip Bayless. Instead, Bayless thinks Belichick’s success is all about Tom Brady. The clip of Bayless’ rant about Belichick Thursday doesn’t appear on Undisputed’s Twitter or YouTube pages, but it was helpfully transcribed by Fox’s Nick Schwartz:

Shannon: “So let me ask you a question, now. If Mr. Kraft has to choose between the two, Tom Brady or coach Belichick, what does he do?”

Skip: “If I’m Bob Kraft, that’s a laughable question to me, because I’m picking the quarterback. If it’s just two years from now, and Tom says he can play three more, I am picking the quarterback. I’ll go find another coach.”

Shannon: “I can’t believe you said that out loud. Wait a minute, Skip. You think great coaches grow on trees?”

Skip: “I don’t think he’s a great coach. I think he’s a very good one. All I know is that in his first six years of head coaching, he had five losing seasons before Tom Brady fell out of the sky and into his lap. And by the way, in that year of 2001, with Bill Belichick as the head coach, he had fallen to 0-2 and I know various assistants on his staff were ready to put their house on the market because they all thought they were going to get fired after they went 5-11 the previous year… if he’s an all-time great coach, he would have been better than he was in Cleveland. Tom Brady saved his job and turned around his career.”

We can add Bayless to the ranks of all those who have doubted Belichick, except he’s remarkably doing it after the fact. Sure, Brady has been great and has been vital to New England’s success, but so has their coach, who’s managed to build a dynasty despite massive player turnover, often using pieces discarded by everyone else. Saying Belichick only did well thanks to Brady is quite a hot take.

Rating: ***

3. Colin Cowherd attributes DeMarcus Cousins trade to “NBA Illuminati”:

This had to be good to beat out Cowherd calling Kentucky “The University of Underwhelming at Lexington or him stealing Bill Simmons’ 2007 idea of a Sports VP of Common Sense, but it is. Really, NBA trades are made by the best players and the shoe guys? Not, I don’t know, the actual general managers? And “The league is trying to help New Orleans”? Nice conspiracy theory there. This is an exaggerated-for-effect take, so it’s perfect for this column, and it’s more proof of how Cowherd wants to be interesting rather than correct. It also led to Cowherd discussing this and the actual Illuminati with Chris Broussard, and bringing up his Speak For Yourself co-star’s favorite target, George Soros.

Rating: ****

2. Marcus Hayes completely changes his tune on Jahlil Okafor: Philadelphia Daily News columnist Marcus Hayes has been all over the map on Jahlil Okafor this month alone, as documented by Jim Adair at Crossing Broad. He went from a Feb. 7 piece on how the Sixers shouldn’t trade any of their three young centers (including Okafor) that said “it seems foolish to consider trading any of them at any point in the past or the near future” to a piece the very next day on how they should sit Ben Simmons and/or Joel Embiid to play Okafor more and boost his trade value (“They would be able to better showcase Jahlil Okafor, their lumbering second-year center whose artistic offensive game does not compensate for his dispassionate play on defense and on the boards. The Sixers want to trade him, but they want a decent return; after all, he was the No. 3 overall pick in 2015. When Embiid plays, Okafor does not. When Okafor sits, his trade value decreases”) to a piece Wednesday on how Okafor isn’t tough enough for Philly and is “tanking himself”:

[Okafor is] a true Hinkie product: He’s tanking himself.

This is a tough-guy city that revels in its Rocky Balboa persona. Dr. J choked Larry Bird. Allen Iverson took on Dennis Rodman. Charles Barkley fought Bill Laimbeer (and, for other towns, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Oakley).

Okafor fights punks on Boston streets. He will dunk on Rudy Gobert on consecutive possessions then disappear for 10 minutes, or 10 days. More and more, he plays like he’s made of porcelain, with all the backbone of gefilte fish…

So, NBA players need to be members of the Broad Street Bullies now? That’s quite the change of tune inside a month.

Rating: *****

1. Dan Le Batard says Magic Johnson has failed at everything post-playing career, and got the Lakers’ job thanks to his ability to smile and charm: Check out this bomb from Le Batard on his radio show Thursday, which was then replayed on ESPN LA and blasted by Keyshawn Johnson:

A transcription: “What you’ve got here though, is a testament to the power of fame. And a testament to the power of a modicum of charm. Because Magic Johnson is charming. But, Magic Johnson was given a late night television show, because he’s famous and charming. Failed in 11 shows. Magic Johnson was given a head coaching job of the Lakers, because he’s famous and charming, failed in 16 games. Magic Johnson, not interesting as a broadcaster, given broadcasting opportunity after broadcasting opportunity, because he’s famous and charming. And now, he gets to run the entire Lakers organization because he’s famous and charming. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. He’s a very kind man, to be in his presence is to be awash in all the things people like about celebrity, he will make you feel special, but he wasn’t good at any of those jobs I just mentioned, and he got all of those jobs, bypassing a whole lot of people who are more qualified, because he’s famous and charming.”

Yeah, that’s a problematic take, and it’s one that’s deservedly drawn a lot of backlash, with Keyshawn Johnson in particular accusing Le Batard of only saying this because of Magic Johnson’s race. Way to deliver the heat, Le Batard.

Rating: *****

Notable absences: Clay Travis, Stephen A. Smith, The New York Post, Shannon Sharpe.

Honorable mention: It’s not from a sports media member, but this comment on Fox’s Facebook page about Leicester firing Claudio Ranieri is delightful:

Hot Take Standings:
Clay Travis – 46
Stephen A. Smith – 43
Skip Bayless – 40
Phil Mushnick – 27
Shannon Sharpe – 20
JT The Brick – 15
Doug Gottlieb – 13
Don Cherry – 11
Colin Cowherd – 9
Charles Barkley – 9
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Ray Lewis – 7
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Dan Le Batard – 5
Marcus Hayes – 5
Rob Parker – 5
Kyle Turley – 5
Mike Ditka – 5
Erril Laborde – 5
Lowell Cohn – 5
Rosie DiManno – 5
C.J. Nitkowski – 5
Frank Isola – 5
FanSided – 4
Cris Carter – 4
Kirk Herbstreit – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
Mike Felger – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Jeff Mans – 3
Danny Kanell – 3
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 3
Chris Broussard – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Dan Dakich – 3
Michael DeCourcy – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Bob Ryan – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
Andy Furman – 2
Donovan McNabb – 2
Seth Davis – 2
Jon Heyman – 2
Jason La Canfora – 2
Dan Wolken – 2
Booger McFarland – 2
Joe Schad – 2
Cork Gaines – 2

Tune in next week for more This Week In Hot Takes. As always, you can send submissions to me via e-mail or on Twitter.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.