Charles Barkley took a break from grounding one-handed tee shots out of bounds at the celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe to go on CSN Sports Talk Live, and Jim Kozimor followed up a few questions about the Chuckster’s inability to golf well with one he probably knew would get a good reaction.
“Why do you hate the Warriors?”
Barkley laughed before saying this:
“You know what’s interesting, you know, I’ve been on television 16 years and I’ve said the exact same thing for 16 years. I’m not big on jump-shooting teams. And the one year you guys have a terrific season, you all took it personally.
“They had a terrific season. Steve Kerr did a fantastic job. You know, they have the best backcourt in the NBA and congratulate them. But it always makes me laugh when people … I’ve said the same thing for 16 years: I don’t like jump-shooting teams. And y’all finally have a good team and all the sudden everybody thinks I don’t like the Golden State Warriors.”
Kozimor brought up how the NBA has evolved, with teams playing differently than when Barkley was an All-NBA player. Then he asked Barkley if all this change has affected his thinking when it comes to teams that can win NBA championships.
“No, not really,” Barkley said. “Because I still think if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving had have been healthy they would’ve won that series.
“You got two guys who are All-Stars that are missing. The series went six games and LeBron ran out of gas. First of all, some of those guys they had out there were just in the way. LeBron just flat ran out of gas, but if you put two All-Stars on that team, the Warriors still might’ve won. But I would’ve picked the Cavs if everybody was healthy.”
Here’s what Barkley said in late-May, before the Warriors even advanced to the NBA Finals:
“The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to win the world championship this year,” Barkley said after the Cavs’ 118-88 win against Atlanta on Tuesday night.
“(Tristan) Thompson has solidified the power forward spot to go with (Timofey) Mozgov,” Barkley said. “They have a big team now. With the addition of J.R. Smith and (Iman) Shumpert, they have athletic ability on the perimeter now. Mozgov saved their season because they were just too small. But now you put him and Thompson together — LeBron’s playing at an unbelievable level — but I think the addition of Shumpert and J.R. Smith made them a legit NBA team.”
Here’s what he told Colin Cowherd in early-June:
“I always say you have to have two things to win a championship. You have to have a star, which LeBron is, and you have to have a crazy person — and the Cavaliers have two of them, Shumpert and J.R. Smith. And I think those guys are going to play great … They’re going to rise to the occasion.”
Man, Barkley really liked Shumpert and J.R. before the Finals. It’s amazing that players without bulk or post moves could impress him to that extent.
And here’s what he said in a June 2 conference call promoting the tournament in Tahoe.
“I still like Cleveland to win the series in six. … I just think it’s LeBron’s time right now.
“If you’re a big team, you get layups and dunks, and also you get the other team in foul trouble. That’s just my philosophy,” Barkley said. “If they prove me wrong, I’ll say, ‘Great job, I was wrong.’ They’ve played fantastic.”
I just thought his pre-Finals analysis might provide some good background info. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
“And if you look at what the San Antonio Spurs did, they went out and got LaMarcus Aldridge,” Barkley told Kozimor.
“Teams aren’t going small, they just need quality big men. What the Golden State Warriors did was terrific. But I don’t think you’re going to see a bunch of, well, if you can get guards like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, you’ve got a better chance of playing small ball. But I don’t think the NBA is all of the sudden is gonna have a bunch of three-point shooters and playing a bunch of small lineups.”
As for the Warriors’ current roster, Barkley thinks they’ve got some questions.
“It’s too early. You’ve got to see them,” he said.
“They’ve lost David Lee, and I don’t know what they gonna do with Bogut. But right now Golden State’s in the conversation, the Clippers are in the conversation, the Spurs in the conversation, Oklahoma City in the conversation. Those are the four best teams, in my opinion, in the Western Conference.”
Notice that the Warriors didn’t face any of those other three teams Barkley mentioned in the playoffs.
“(The Warriors) were terrific defensively. But if you go back and look at how things worked out in the playoffs, they didn’t play against dominant big men. I that’s what I think is going to be their Achilles heel in the long run. I think they would’ve had a much tougher matchup with the Clippers, with DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin down low. I mean, it’s all about matchups you get in the playoffs.
“And like I say, listen, you can’t take anything away from them. They’ve got a terrific team,” Barkley said before taking things away from them.
“But they did get some breaks, because it would’ve been much tougher with Blake down low and DeAndre on the boards, and Chris Paul. That would’ve been a much tougher matchup than the Houston Rockets.”
Barkley is clearly more worried about mass than mental fortitude, because there was a simple reason why the Clippers — who lost their season series 3-1 to the Warriors — crumbled in Game 6 at home before losing Game 7 in Houston. All the size in the world doesn’t help when everyone on the team tightens up and plays not to lose, leading to one of the NBA’s most egregious choke-jobs since Reggie Miller wrapped his hands around his own throat while staring at Spike Lee.
A few things should be noted.
1. The chances that Barkley was 100% sober during this interview are fairly slim. We’re talking about Charles Barkley at a celebrity golf tournament on a Friday afternoon. I think his history tells us that some pre-interview imbibing may have occurred.
2. Barkley’s point that the Warriors didn’t face any dominant big men might’ve been the most ludicrous thing he said (yes, even more than his concern over the loss of Lee and whatever he was referring to with Bogut). In the same interview he called Anthony Davis the second-best player in the game, behind LeBron. The Warriors swept Davis’ Pelicans. The Warriors defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, who might have the best big man tandem in the league in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Then Golden State beat the Rockets … OK, Dwight Howard isn’t quite as imposing as he was five years ago, but he’s still a fairly dominant big man in certain respects. And we can see from his comments before the Finals that he was extremely high on Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson (whose impact would’ve been minimized if Kevin Love was healthy).
3. Barkley is an entertainer. The interview with Kozimor was funny and interesting, even when Barkley contradicted himself and repeated his points. He likes big men because he is/was a big man. He was never a “stretch 4,” although at the end of his career he did enjoy jacking up shots from 3-point range. He’s made it clear that he doesn’t care for analytics, and he’ll never admit that the same bully ball style that was prevalent in the 1990s wouldn’t work as well today, now that the game is played with more spacing and finesse and illegal defense rules no longer exist. But most of all, Chuck knows his shtick, his shtick works, and if Warriors fans think he’s ridiculous, obtuse or simply a Dubs-hating troll, so be it.