Charles Barkley on The Stephen A. Smith Show Photo credit: The Stephen A. Smith Show

Charles Barkley sounds more concerned than ever about the NBA, and today’s players have nobody but themselves to blame.

During a recent appearance on The Stephen A. Smith Show, Barkley was asked about the current state of the NBA. And the Hall of Fame Basketball player didn’t hesitate to share his level of concern.

“You have to be concerned,” Barkley said. “Everybody has to be concerned. Because the one thing you can’t do is alienate your fans. That’s the one thing you can’t do, because the fans make everything go. They buy our products. They watch our sport. And once you piss them off, there’s gonna be some repercussions.”

With his 16 seasons as a player and near quarter-century as a media member, Barkley has been one of the NBA’s foremost personalities for decades. And with the league in the middle of negotiating its next media rights deal, Barkley’s concern for the league is only accentuated, especially around load management.

“What’s gonna be interesting with this new TV deal when guys start making even more money,” Barkley told Smith. “When you have guys making 75, 80, 90, God forbid $100 million a year to play basketball, and the guy says, ‘You know what, I’m gonna rest tonight.’ At some point the fans are gonna say, ‘I’ve had enough.’”

“Somebody did a lot of heavy lifting to put you in this situation,” Barkley continued. “You’re not making all this money because you’re great at sports. Yeah, there’s a couple of them who are great at sports. But most of them were just born at the right time.”

Barkley proceeded to claim today’s NBA players should be looking to piggyback off the people who built the league up before them. According to Barkley, too many players are alienating fans rather than attempting to grow the league further.

This isn’t Barkley’s first rant on load management. He played during an era where players were more often expected to endure the bumps and bruises that come during an NBA season. But today’s players aren’t the only culprits: NBA owners and coaches have leaned into load management as a mode of keeping their roster as healthy as possible for the playoffs.

The finger can also be pointed at Barkley’s media colleagues who place so much emphasis on championships when assessing a player’s legacy. If championships are all that matter in the eyes of the media, then it becomes hard for them to call players out who are missing regular season games to stay fresh for the playoffs.

[The Stephen A. Smith Show]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to