If Charles Barkley believes Kevin Durant is sensitive and incapable of accepting criticism, what does that make Michael Jordan?
During Barkley’s recent appearance on 60 Minutes, he called out Durant and today’s generation of NBA players for being too sensitive. Tuesday morning on ESPN’s First Take, former NBA point guard Jay Williams spotted an obvious hypocrisy, noting Michael Jordan’s ‘tougher than nails’ label despite infamously holding a grudge against Barkley for criticizing him.
Jay Williams pushes back on Charles Barkley claiming today’s NBA players are too sensitive as Michael Jordan continues to hold a grudge pic.twitter.com/DFrj1WKT19
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 28, 2023
“Charles Barkley on 60 Minutes, I love Uncle Chuck, that is my guy,” Williams said. “But when I hear him call our generation of players ‘sensitive,’ the only moment I’m going to have where I drop the mic is…Michael Jordan. The guy who could win through any situation, the guy who was tougher than nails itself, refuses to talk to Charles Barkley because of a criticism he had against him as it relates to being in ownership…maybe this is all players of all different generations who use criticism and sensitivities to motivate us to be better.”
When sports hosts and analysts criticize the modern NBA for being soft or sensitive, it’s usually followed by the argument that today’s players couldn’t have succeeded in the ‘80s or ‘90s. With social media and endless platforms for sports talkers to make headlines, it’s impossible for today’s NBA players to avoid the criticisms that are said about them on a daily basis. That wasn’t the case in the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s. Were past generations of NBA players more apt to handle criticism? Or was the criticism just harder to find?
“He’s very sensitive. Great player. He’s part of that generation who think he can’t be criticized,” Barkley said of Durant on 60 Minutes. “He’s never looked in the mirror and says ‘Man, is that a fair criticism?'”
Charles Barkley on Kevin Durant: “He’s very sensitive. Great player. He’s part of that generation who think he can’t be criticized. He’s never looked in the mirror and says ‘Man, is that a fair criticism?'” pic.twitter.com/X16UpFXM7e
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 27, 2023
But as Williams noted on First Take, the NBA player who is most widely lauded for being tough-minded and hard-nosed, cut Barkley off because of a criticism. In 2012, Barkley criticized Jordan’s ownership tenure, and the six-time NBA champion took that personally. The former close friends have not spoken since. That seems overly sensitive on Jordan’s part, especially as he proceeded to be one of the worst owners in NBA history throughout the next decade.
Stephen A. Smith has said it’s a “misnomer” that Jordan can’t handle criticism from the media, claiming he just needs to be warned first. But isn’t that proof of Jordan being sensitive? Durant would probably appreciate if Smith or Barkley gave him a phone call before publicly criticizing him, but today’s generation of NBA players are not granted the same exception that Jordan demands.
Jordan isn’t the only example of hypocrisy with Barkley’s claim that today’s NBA players can’t handle criticism. Barkley himself struggled to deal with criticism when he was a player, repeatedly belittling media members who questioned something he did on or off the court.
So if Barkley is going to call Durant and today’s generation of NBA players sensitive for not being able to look in the mirror and accept criticism, maybe he should similarly tag himself and Michael Jordan with the same label.