Kevin Durant Feb 17, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Western Conference forward Kevin Durant (35) of the Phoenix Suns talk to the press during NBA All Star practice at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Barkley has repeatedly criticized Kevin Durant, questioning his leadership qualities and calling him a “follower” rather than a leader. It’s not a secret that this rift has caused tension between the two.

During the All-Star Game alternate broadcast, Barkley, alongside Taylor Rooks and Draymond Green, shared his opinion on Phoenix Suns leadership. He expressed his preference for Durant to step up as the leader while acknowledging that it has to be Devin Booker, suggesting the former hasn’t taken on that role throughout his career.

While the NBA on TNT analyst didn’t want to come across as disrespecting Durant, he cast doubt on the All-NBA forward’s ability to take the reins, citing that he hasn’t been up for the tasks during his previous stops — Oklahoma City/Seattle, Golden State, Brooklyn and now Phoenix.

While Durant indirectly addressed concerns about his leadership style — long known for being a leader by example who chooses his spots to be vocal — he wasn’t directly responding to the comments that Barkley made over the weekend in Indiana during an interview with his manager, Rich Kleiman, released Tuesday by Durant’s media brand Boardroom.

Barkley’s long-held view of Durant’s leadership being insufficient is no secret, and he readily takes the lead in voicing this opinion among NBA media.

With Durant now directly facing questions about these comments, he elected to take aim at Barkley.

“I just feel like a lot of people that are on TV, that doesn’t ever come to the gym; that don’t ever come to games; it’s hard for them to speak on what I do when they not in here,” Durant said. “It’s just part of TV. They needed something to fill a segment up. So they talk about some negative ****, but if you’re not in the gym, I don’t respect your opinion if you’re not in the gym with me.”

Never one to turn down the opportunity for a back-and-forth, Barkley’s past criticisms of Durant suggest he might address the recent comments on Inside the NBA. And as the Suns-Dallas Mavericks take center stage on TNT around 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, it’s almost a virtual guarantee that Sir Charles will deliver some response.

Having previously taken aim at Durant and his leadership style before, all bets are off, but it’s likely that this rift will only continue to take center stage in the basketball world right after JJ Redick and wherever he’s beefing with this week, of course.

[Duane Rankin]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.