Skip Bayless usually gets crowned the utmost hater of LeBron James, but Charles Barkley deserves some consideration for the honor.
This week, on Inside the NBA, Barkley harshly dismissed James and Shaquille O’Neal on back-to-back nights. Nearly every NBA fan and analyst would agree that despite their short tenures, Shaq might be the greatest Orlando Magic player of all time, and LeBron deserves consideration for the same nod with the Miami Heat. Barkley, however, doesn’t put either player on the list of greats.
After Jimmy Butler led Miami to a Game 4 win over the Milwaukee Bucks with an epic 56-point performance Monday night, Barkley said Butler deserves to be recognized among the pantheon of Heat greats.
“I’ll tell you what, Jimmy Butler, Alonzo Mourning, and Dwyane Wade are the greatest Miami Heat players ever,” said Barkley.
And what about James, who won two league MVPs and two Finals MVPs with the Heat? Ernie Johnson chuckled at Barkley throwing obvious shade at LeBron, and joining the likes of Bayless there. “A little pointed shot,” Johnson said.
In the same vein, Barkley took another pointed shot Tuesday night, when he conveniently left Shaq off his list of greatest Magic big men of all time. While interviewing Orlando’s Paulo Banchero, who was fresh off being named this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year, Barkley couldn’t help himself from insulting O’Neal.
“Other than Dwight Howard, you’re another great Orlando [Magic] big man. Not many great men in Orlando. You’re second already behind Dwight.”
Charles Barkley to Paolo Banchero 😂pic.twitter.com/Z91xfXk1mX
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 25, 2023
“Congratulations on a fantastic rookie season,” Barkley said. “I mean, other than Dwight Howard, you’re another great Orlando big man. Not many great big men in Orlando. You’re second already behind Dwight.”
No mention of the Hall of Famer sitting a few feet away from him, O’Neal. Barkley and Shaq love to trade jabs on Inside the NBA, but come on.
The last decade or so of Dwight Howard’s career often causes people to forget how good he was in Orlando, so it was nice to see him receive some well-deserved praise. You can even make the argument that Howard had the better Magic career, but you can’t argue he was better than O’Neal. And obviously, the belief that Banchero has already slid past O’Neal on the list of Magic greats is laughable.
Barkley might get chided for not doing his homework and knowing every player in the league. But clearly, he’s aware Shaq played for Orlando and LeBron won multiple Finals MVPs in Miami.