Charles Barkley is tired of watching ESPN squeeze every story they can out of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers before deciding to cover the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets advanced to their first NBA Finals in franchise history after sweeping LeBron’s Lakers out of the Western Conference Finals this week. But instead of making Denver the headline, media outlets and debate shows have attempted to keep the focus on LeBron and the Lakers.
After Denver won Game 4 Monday night, ESPN kept their cameras on the winning team for just four seconds before flipping to LeBron James for the better part of two minutes. And Tuesday morning, instead of celebrating Nikola Jokić for leading Denver to the Finals, ESPN was hellbent on talking about the Lakers, especially on the heels of LeBron hinting that he’s contemplating retirement.
“I was so mad this morning I actually turned the TV off. Because the Denver Nuggets sweep, get to the finals for the first time… We all love LeBron, he didn’t say he was retired yet… But it should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
— Charles Barkleypic.twitter.com/WBuWAv4bs4
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 24, 2023
“I was so mad this morning I actually turned the TV off,” Barkley said Tuesday night on Inside the NBA, “Because the Denver Nuggets, who have been the best basketball team in the world all season, sweep and get to the Finals for the first time. Now you know Mike Malone, I love him, but he’s whiny, but he does have a point.”
The Michael Malone point Barkley referred to came last week when the Nuggets head coach shamed the media for overlooking his squad to make headlines about the Lakers.
“I think a lot of our guys, to be honest, they may not admit this or not. You win Game 1 of the playoffs and all everybody talked about was the Lakers,” Malone said during his postgame press conference after the Nuggets took a 2-0 series lead over the Lakers last week. According to Barkley, not only was Malone right when he highlighted the media bias last week, but that bias has continued even after Denver finished off the Lakers.
“We all love LeBron,” Barkley continued. “He didn’t say he was retiring yet. When he does that, we’ll do all of that stuff. But it should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets and Joker, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter and those guys.”
Barkley’s sentiment echoed that of ESPN’s JJ Redick, who called out his own employer Tuesday morning when he was on First Take and being asked to talk about the Lakers losing instead of the Nuggets winning. The problem, however, is these shows aspire to attract casual fans. NBA fans are willing to consume content about Jokić and the Nuggets. But there is an assumption that headlines and chyrons featuring LeBron James or the Lakers will garner a broader audience through the likes of casual sports fans. Which means despite Barkley’s gripe, debate shows will continue to hammer topics about the Lakers and Dallas Cowboys for the foreseeable future.