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LeBron James finally snapped over TNT analyst and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley’s frequent criticisms.
Barkley has long been critical of James, taking him to task for several issues, including his televised “The Decision” when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, and for his numerous friendships around the NBA.
Barkley then said that the Cavaliers have traded for, signed, and re-signed players that James has wanted on the team. “He’s the best player in the world,” Barkley said. “Does he want all of the good players? He don’t want to compete?”
According to McMenamin, after ESPN asked Cavs center Tristan Thompson about Barkley’s criticisms, James piped up, saying: “He’s a hater. What makes what he says credible? Because he’s on TV?”
James then went scorched earth on Barkley, recalling several of Barkley’s infamous incidents during his career:
“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that. I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.
“All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”
James also addressed Barkley’s criticisms of his friendship with Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony, saying Barkley was chummy with opponents, too.
“Go watch the ’93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot,” James said. “Barkley and [Michael] Jordan were laughing and joking with each other during one of the games while somebody’s shooting a free throw. In the Finals. But, oh, nobody were friends back then.”
James also said if Barkley had any response to his rant, he knew where to find him.
“And if this makes him want to talk to me, the schedule’s out there,” he said. “He knows every road arena I’ll be in. Don’t just come up to me at All-Star and shake my hand and smile.”
James also brought up a story about Phil Jackson not saying hello to him when he watched a Knicks game from a suite. Jackson irked James this season by referring to James’ business associates and friends as his “posse.”
James said, “I’m here to win ballgames and take care of my teammates and take care of my, what’s that word, oh, my ‘posse.'”
James, whose Cavaliers concluded January with a 7-8 record after a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, finished his rant on a dramatic note.
“I’m tired of biting my tongue,” he said. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”