Charles Barkley has been in the news all week for, what else, running his mouth.
In a saga that has become exhausting to follow, Barkley called LeBron James whiny, LeBron shot back with a string of insults for Sir Charles, and Barkley reiterated his original point while criticizing LeBron for taking it all so personally.
Leaving aside who’s right and who’s wrong and who should shut up in this specific case, it’s worth noting that Barkley has a less-than-perfect record of thoughtful analysis. In fact, I’ve previously described him as “Skip Bayless with charisma.” The guy says whatever comes to his mind, and often what comes to his mind is incorrect.
Sometimes Barkley’s bad opinions are somewhat reasonable and not far off the mainstream, such as when, in 2002 he worried that Yao Ming, as a paper-thin center from an unproven market who was off to a bad start in the NBA, would be a bust. Still, it was probably overboard for him to say that Yao “makes Shawn Bradley look like Bill Russell.”
Then there are times when he’s been a little further from the mainstream, in a way that proved to be flatly wrong…
Jeremy Lin is, for better or for worse, a Houston Rocket now. While some devoted Knicks fans are insistent that this latest moment in a series of unfortunate events won’t deter them from rooting at Madison Square Garden, some believe that that the Knicks messed up by allowing Lin to court other offers. Former basketball player and TNT hoops analyst “Sir” Charles Barkley told ESPN, “I think the Knicks made a mistake in letting him get an offer sheet. They can’t come back and complain later”—but the Knicks do that so well!
And times when he was even further from the mainstream, in a way that proved to be embarrassingly wrong…
Charles Barkley says he thinks the Harden trade was "great" for Oklahoma City.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) October 30, 2012
And times when he said something that seemed outright silly at the time and just as silly weeks later…
Charles Barkley on Spurs "I don't think the #Spurs can last 3 rounds deep in the playoffs. I think their older players will not hold up."
— Cameron Cox (@CamCox12) March 7, 2014
There is also this…
Barkley says Jason Kidd will turn Michael Carter-Williams "into a perennial All-Star" and will turn the Bucks into "perennial contenders."
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 16, 2015
Barkley: "Miami's obviously going to be the favorite. If the Lakers get Dwight Howard, then they can be the favorite."
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 19, 2012
And times when his opinion has come four years too early…
Charles Barkley says Tim Duncan should retire. He said the same thing about Kevin Garnett last year.
— Michael Pina (@MichaelVPina) June 7, 2012
But you know, we should cut Charles some slack. He has to talk a lot, and it’s inevitable that sometimes he’ll say something impulsive that looks foolish in hindsight. Sure Yao became a Hall of Famer, Jeremy Lin was not worth keeping, James Harden became a superstar, the Spurs won the title, and Duncan played four more years, but those weren’t sure things at the time Charles said them.
Of course, that doesn’t excuse Barkley’s persistent wrongness about the Golden State Warriors, a team he sees as a “jump-shooting team” that can’t possibly succeed in today’s NBA, even though 1) Today’s NBA is dominated by jump-shooting and 2) The Warriors have already succeeded by every possible definition.
Remember in 2013, at the very beginning of the Warriors’ emergence, when Barkley said Klay Thompson and Steph Curry couldn’t play together?
Charles Barkley on Steph Curry and Klay Thompson: "I don't think they can play together."
— Matt Steinmetz (@SteinmetzNBA) February 8, 2013
He was wrong.
Remember when he said the Warriors could not win a title?
They’ve had a terrific season. But I don’t like jump-shooting teams. I don’t think you can make enough jumpers to win four series in a row. I’ve said that for 25 years, not just now. I think you physically manhandle them inside.
He was wrong.
Remember when he thought the Warriors would lose to the Thunder in last year’s Western Conference Finals?
“Oklahoma City, I think, is the better team. Everybody is going by the regular season. When you play the same team several times in a week, that has nothing to do with the regular season. If you want to be honest, they (the Thunder) should have won two of the three in the regular season.”
He was wrong.
And somehow after all this wrongness, Barkley still tried to pull an “I told you so,” after the Warriors lost a tight seven-game NBA Finals, a series they might have won if one of their best players didn’t kick an opponent in the junk.
“Man, let me tell y’all something,” Barkley said. “I know it’s hard for y’all to let it roll off your tongue and say, ‘Charles was right.’ When I told you they couldn’t play that little small ball and win a championship if everybody they played was healthy, they’d wear down, and they did. I told you Cleveland was going to beat them, and they did. … They have the same issues: Can that type of play hold up? The one year they won, they got lucky. Everyone they played was hurt.”
Charles Barkley: very wrong, very often.