LeBron James unloaded on TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley and Knicks president Phil Jackson on Monday night, calling Barkley a “hater” and bringing up Jackson’s “posse” comment from this fall.
“I’m not going to let [Barkley] disrespect my legacy like that,” James told ESPN after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 104-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. “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.”
Barkley criticized James last week after James publicly said the Cavaliers needed another playmaker in order to bolster their chance of repeating as NBA champions.
“Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above,” the Basketball Hall of Famer said of James. “The Cleveland Cavaliers, they have given him everything he wanted. They have the highest payroll in NBA history. He wanted J.R. Smith last summer, they paid him. He wanted [Iman] Shumpert last summer. They brought in Kyle Korver. He’s the best player in the world. Does he want all of the good players? He don’t want to compete? He is an amazing player. They’re the defending champs.”
James fired back Monday night, saying that he was “tired of biting my tongue.”
“What makes what he says credible?” James asked ESPN of Barkley. “Because he’s on TV?”
James also responded to the idea that he is close friends with many other NBA stars. He brought up a 1993 NBA Finals game between the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns, when both Barkley and Michael Jordan were playing.
“Go watch the ‘93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot,” James told ESPN. “Barkley and 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 then turned his sights on Jackson, recalling a time two years ago when, on a day off in New York, he went to visit Jackson in a suite during halftime of a game between the Knicks and the Portland Trail Blazers. James said that “Phil Jackson didn’t say one word to me.”
Jackson brought up James unprompted in an interview earlier this season in which he called James’ inner circle his “posse.”
Said James: “I’m here to win ballgames and take care of my teammates and take care of my, what’s that word, oh, my ‘posse.’”