While knowing how great LeBron James and Steph Curry are, Charles Barkley doesn't believe in the Lakers and Warriors. Photo/Video Credit: NBA on TNT Photo/Video Credit: NBA on TNT

Charles Barkley understands that LeBron James and Steph Curry are great players. He also believes that their respective teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, are severely overhyped.

The Warriors took on the New York Knicks on Thursday in what was Game 1 of TNT’s doubleheader. Part of the pregame conversation between Barkley and his Inside the NBA co-hosts focused on how much better Golden State has been playing in recent weeks. While the Warriors headed into Thursday’s game holding the final Western Conference play-in spot, host Adam Lefkoe noted that “They are a dangerous team that I can’t imagine anyone wants to play — and Chuck is laughing.”

Lefkoe and everyone else watching quickly found out why.

“I’m so sick of these fools on other networks talking about the Lakers and the Warriors,” he said. “We don’t brag about any other play-in teams, do we? I understand. Steph is great. LeBron is great. Ain’t nobody worried about the Lakers and the Warriors in the West.”

Kenny Smith then interjected. “If Tom Brady was in a play-in situation, you’d be like, ‘That’s Tom Brady.’ That’s what LeBron and Steph are.”

Barkley dismissed that argument, noting that the No. 9 seed in the East doesn’t get talked about the same way that the Warriors or Lakers do.

Smith again noted the greatness of James and Curry, calling them “Two of the best players to ever play the game.”

While Barkley did not disagree, he was also clear that it didn’t matter.

“I understand. They are. But they’re not no threat to those teams in the West. So stop juicing them up.”

The play-in tournament has only been used since 2021. Between the two conferences, the teams that have advanced out of the play-in tournament are a combined 2-10 in the first round of the playoffs. And even before the play-in tournament, No. 7 and No. 8 seeds have rarely made much noise in the playoffs. That said, two notable exceptions came one year ago.

LeBron and the Lakers were seventh in the Western Conference in 2023. They won the first play-in game to advance to the playoffs as the No. 7 seed, then made it to the Western Conference Finals before falling to the Denver Nuggets. The Miami Heat, meanwhile, were seventh in the East and actually lost the 7 vs. 8 game to the Atlanta Hawks. They came back to earn the No. 8 seed with a win over the Chicago Bulls, then advanced to the NBA Finals, where they lost to Denver.

Barkley is probably right. The Lakers and Warriors both have an uphill battle to go on deep playoff runs, assuming they even make it. But knowing the pedigree of both teams, what happened last year in both conferences and of course, how great LeBron and Curry are, dismissing them in February may be premature.

[Photo/Video Credit: NBA on TNT]

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