Charles Barkley has a lot of opinions. Some of them are thoughtful, some are impulsive, some are provocative, others are boilerplate.
But not a single opinion Barkley has makes less sense than his list of the five greatest basketball players of all-time.
Barkley has shared his list, the reasoning behind it and his steadfast refusal to ever change it many times before, but we’re writing about it today because he appeared Wednesday on The Dan Patrick Show to re-state all the tortured logic.
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) May 10, 2017
Let’s count out the ways Barkley’s reasoning is, as he might say, turrible.
1. “No one is ever gonna get in my top five.”
This is maybe the most frustrating part. How can you set a top five and then say it can never, ever change? So if a seven-foot point guard comes along, averages a triple double for 15 years, wins 10 straight titles and sets every notable NBA record, he won’t make your top five?
2. “If LeBron wins one or two more championships … I might move him past Kobe.”
LeBron is already well past Kobe, and it’s fairly infuriating that a number of fans still refuse to recognize that.
3. “You guys are always talking about championships.”
He then proceeds to talk about championships.
4. “I’ve always said, Michael, Oscar, Kareem, Bill Russell and Wilt.”
We don’t need to get too far into this because opinions will always differ, but… Oscar Robertson over Magic Johnson?
5. “That’s what you guys are telling me.”
Charles can’t make up his mind about whether championships matter or not. LeBron’s position relative to Kobe seems to hinge entirely on titles, but he acts like it’s everyone else with an irrational obsession with winning. Of course, there are exceptions…
5. “Oscar won one, but he averaged a triple double.”
So by this logic, Russell Westbrook is a top five player of all-time if he wins just one title, right? If the principal argument for Oscar is that he averaged a triple-double, that standard has to apply to Russ, right?
6. “[Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West] lost to Bill Russell like 12 years in a row! There’s no shame in losing to Bill Russell.”
Sure there’s no shame in losing to Bill Russell, but we’re talking about all-time greats here. If you’re going to designate titles a prime criterion in your rankings, you can’t go making excuses for why guys failed again and again to win them.
The “top five” conversation is so fun because there are so many different permutations you can argue logically. Charles—who is, we should mention, as entertaining and enjoyable a personality as exists on TV—has picked a borderline indefensible list and then proclaimed he will never change it.
Is Barkley’s flawed logic on this subject important? Not really. Grounds for him being fired? Nope. Painfully lacking in basic reasoning. Yep. Extremely frustrating every time we hear it. For some reason, yes.