Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith ahead of Game 1 of the Mavericks-Timberwolves series. Photo Credit: TNT Photo Credit: TNT

Wednesday’s Game 1 matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves features a battle between two of the rising stars in the NBA, Luka Dončić and Anthony Edwards. This sparked a rather one-sided debate from the Inside the NBA crew on one of these two players potentially becoming the “face” of the league after this series.

Kenny Smith shared his opinion on the series, proclaiming that this series will determine who is the face of the league between Dončić and Edwards.

“No disrespect to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and (Tyrese) Haliburton. But whoever wins this series, the face of the league is coming out,” said Smith. “They have the two most polarizing guys, Luka Dončić and Anthony Edwards. So now, if they get to the finals, it won’t be they won or lost. So it wouldn’t be Boston won, it would be Luka lost. It wouldn’t be Indiana won, it would be Ant-man lost. This is something different for me to watch from a fan standpoint, not an analyst, but as a fan. Who comes out as the face of the NBA moving forward?”

As soon as Smith finished his proclamation, Barkley immediately pushed back against this narrative, calling it “one of the dumbest takes” he has ever heard.

“Wow, that was one of the dumbest takes I’ve ever heard. The Boston Celtics are the favorites. It’s not gonna be whether Luka (Dončić) won or Anthony (Edwards) lost. It ain’t gonna be that. Everybody thinks the Celtics are the favorites, everybody!”

Barkley does raise a very good point here. The Celtics are indeed the overwhelming favorites to win the NBA Finals at the moment, both in the eyes of most fans and in terms of the betting odds on sportsbooks.

Whether the Celtics do end up winning it all is honestly irrelevant to Barkley’s argument. Looking past the overwhelming favorites in Boston like Smith appears to be doing certainly seems a bit laughable.

It’s not like the Celtics, a big-market team, don’t have big stars either, in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. We’re not too far removed from these very same talks about Jayson Tatum being the “face” of the league if the Celtics had been able to beat the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals.

The take from Smith appears to be a bit of a premature one. And Barkley was in absolutely no mood to let it slide.

[Rob Perez on Twitter/X, Photo Credit: TNT]

About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Sports Media. He previously worked at Barrett Sports Media and is a fan of all things Syracuse sports.