MIAMI — Charles Barkley didn’t hide his feelings when the Miami Heat put together the Big Three in 2010.
The TNT NBA analyst and Hall of Fame basketball player did not shy away from criticizing LeBron James for joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Barkley called James’ decision a “punk move.”
James never fired back, taking the high road during his time in Miami.
But James is done biting his tongue.
Barkley called out the four-time MVP last week for complaining about the Cavaliers’ roster. James had made it known that he believes Cleveland needs another playmaker to have a chance at an NBA title this season.
“Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above,” Barkley said of James last week. “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.”
This time James had a response.
“He’s a hater,” James told ESPN Monday. “What makes what he says credible? Because he’s on TV?”
James wasn’t done.
“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James told ESPN. “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’ comments didn’t surprise Heat forward Udonis Haslem. The thing that surprised Haslem is that it took so long for James to respond to Barkley.
“He should have went at him sooner,” said Haslem, who was James’ teammate in Miami during the Big Three era. “Chuck be tripping, man. I’ve been saying that for a long time. Ever since we put together the Big Three, it seems like he never had nothing positive to say about LeBron or D-Wade. They’re better than me. I would have been went at him.
“At the end of the day, we understand that you get paid to do your job. But don’t see somebody and smile to their face, and then when you get on TV all you’re doing is stabbing people. That’s what we call throwing rocks and hiding your hands, Chuck.”
Wade agrees with Haslem.
“Thank God he finally said something,” Wade said Tuesday, via the Chicago Tribune. “LeBron, a lot of guys take a lot of shots at him for whatever reason. He just has kept his mouth closed and continued to focus on what he needs to. But it’s about time he said something, man. Guys ride him, especially ex-players.
“When you have a history, when you can go and Google your history, you better be a little careful with what you say. Sometimes, when guys get a microphone in front of their face, they just talk and talk and talk and forget about their history. We all make that mistake, but especially that guy on TV. He’s acting like he just walks on water. And I like the fact that LeBron called him out and told him about himself a little bit.”
And it seems like James isn’t done speaking up.
“I’m tired of biting my tongue,” James said to ESPN. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”