Former Knicks forward Charles Oakley took exception to outspoken TNT commentator Charles Barkley’s suggestion that the Atlanta Hawks needed to get more physical with the Cleveland Cavaliers after a recent blowout loss in the playoffs. And Oakley, never shy about offering his opinions, didn’t let up about his former NBA counterpart during an appearance Tuesday at the BTIG Charity Day event in Manhattan.
And he also took a few shots at Barkley’s NBA career, suggesting the Hall of Famer and former All-Star forward for the 76ers, Suns and Rockets wasn’t as good as his reputation suggests.
“He talks too much about things he shouldn’t talk about,” Oakley said of Barkley. “He’s on TNT, and he hides behind the camera. I’m from Cleveland. It’s hard to throw a team under the bus after they win by 30 points. They ain’t lost a game yet. If I’m a commentator, ain’t nothing [bad] I can say about Cleveland. They’re getting the job done.”
The Cavaliers have won the first two rounds of the playoffs, sweeping the Pistons and the Hawks to reach the semifinals against the winner of the Heat-Raptors series, which is tied 2-2.
Oakley admits Barkley was a “better player than me, man up. But I did more other things than him on the court. I made my teammates better. He was more into himself. I know maybe 60 guys that played with him, and maybe only one of them had something good to say about him, and that was him.”
Oakley said he would love to play against Barkley one-on-one. “If we had to play one-on-one, I would love to see that, because one-on-one, it’s about me and him. It’s not like he could just blow past me. He didn’t have a great jump shot. I would get the ball, because he would miss a lot, too.”
Oakley added of Barkley: “He’s a commentator. I’m a better commentator. You ever see him play? Do you think he’s tough? OK, then. He wasn’t that tough. He was a great guy for getting his 25 [points] and 11 [rebounds]. Back then people just didn’t talk. We let the people who watched the game in the barbershop, the car washes, talk about the game. Other players never talked about how great they were. People talk about me and all I tell them is I just played hard and I had to play to the strength of my game. He played to the strength of his game, but his game wasn’t tough. Most of your scorers ain’t tough people. They get the ball numbers of times to get the chance to give their team a win, that’s all.”
Oakley also weighed in on several other topics.
On the trend toward more three-point shots in the NBA: “I don’t know. That’s what the analytics say. They want shots. But my thing is the two best shooters, probably, in the game are on the same team. If you have two shooters like that, you can shoot threes. If you don’t, stay to twos. It’s a different league.”
On changes in modern players: “The players are not zoned in to what they have to do on a nightly basis — every night. You get these commentators talking about in basketball you don’t have to play until May and June. You have to play every night because people are paying money every night so you should come out and try to perform every night. They don’t let people in free. When they start letting people in free then you can play any kind of way. But as long as people have to pay money to bring kids, you have to buy hot dogs, parking, you should try to show the kids that are coming to the game that that guy can play basketball.”
On whether he is surprised former Knicks center Patrick Ewing has not gotten a head coaching job: “Am I surprised? When it comes to coaching you never know who they want. They might hire you if you had a friend who’s a GM. They hire who they want. So if you’ve been coaching 10, 15 years and ain’t got a [head coaching] job you ain’t gonna get one — point blank. Because they’re giving guys jobs that didn’t mean nothing to the league. Steve Kerr hit one shot in what — 15 years? He played with some great players. Some people made their own way. He didn’t make a way because over his career he averaged what, three or four points? They give him a job. He comes to a team and it’s like a house. You want somebody to buy a house and all you need is some windows and turn the heat and air on. That’s how his job was. All he had to do was turn the heat and air on and put some windows in. Does that make sense? Ready made!”
On his newfound passion for cooking and whether he considers himself a chef: “I’m not a chef. I’m a cook. If you buy something, I’ll cook. I love to cook for a lot of people.”