(CBS) Cavaliers star LeBron James has grown tired of criticism from TNT analyst Charles Barkley and fired back in kind.
James called Barkley “a hater,” questioned his credentials for having his television platform and criticized Barkley’s missteps during his Hall of Fame career that preceded him becoming an entertaining and at-times polarizing analyst.
James’ comments followed Barkley recently saying that James was “inappropriate” to question the Cavaliers organization’s commitment to winning, which James did as part of a message in which he cited his desire for Cleveland to acquire another “playmaker.” Barkley pointed out that the Cavaliers have the “highest payroll in NBA history” and have ceded to James’ wishes each of the past two summers to dole out big money to key players like J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson, in addition to recently trading for sharpshooter Kyle Korver. Years ago, Barkley had also called it a “punk move” when James left the Cavaliers for the Heat in 2010.
“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James told ESPN.com. “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 made a reference to ESPN.com that Barkley would like to be retired, but “he can’t,” an apparent shot at the 53-year-old Barkley needing the financial compensation. James has also grown upset by those with an old-school mindset like Barkley of criticizing him for his close relationship with foes Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.
“Go watch the ’93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot,” James said, per ESPN.com. “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.”