It has been weeks since Charles Barkley said anything critical of the Miami Heat, but our long national nightmare is now over. The Round Mound of Rebound appeared on ESPN Radio's Waddle & Silvy Show on Wednesday and revived his favorite pastime: taking LeBron James down a peg.
Perhaps beating a dead horse is part of an exercise plan to complement his Weight Watchers endorsement program. Barkley is basically rehashing the same points he has made about James for the past year: James does not have the killer instinct necessary for true basketball greatness.
Asked about James' apparent disappearance while the Heat blew a 17-point lead in a loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, Barkley said the problem was that James deferred to Dwyane Wade, who returned to the Heat line-up following a three-game absence.
"[James] went from scoring 30 points a game last week when Dwyane was out to when Dwyane came back, he stepped back a little bit," Barkley said.
"I tell people, LeBron James is a great, great player. But I think he's just one of those nice guys, 'Well Dwyane's back, I'm going to defer to him.'"
"My personal opinion is he just doesn't have an aggressive personality," he added.
"You saw when Dwyane was out, LeBron had like monster games. He almost averaged a triple-double." James sat out one of those three games with an injury of his own, but in the other two he averaged 32.5 points, 12 assists and 7.5 rebounds.
Not that a sample size of two games says anything about the difference when Wade is off the court. As often happens when the subject of James comes up, Barkley is cherry-picking statistics that confirm his own bias, rather than taking an objective look at the entire situation.
In the seven games in which both Wade and James have taken the floor this season, James averaged 28.9 points, 6.6 assists, and 8.1 rebounds. If that is disappointing to Barkley, then it is unlikely James could do anything at all to satisfy him.
Besides, James' supposed disappearance in the fourth quarter of the Warriors loss (he did not attempt a single field goal in the fourth quarter, and only drew one foul) ignores a hugely important fact. On multiple occasions in the quarter, James had the ball on offense, drew a double- or triple-team, and made passes to wide-open teammates with a chance to score. On each play, the teammate failed to knock down the open shot.
If Udonis Haslem or Mario Chalmers had made just one of those open looks they had received as a result of James' attention, the Heat would have won and Barkley would not even be talking about James right now.
But those shots did not fall, and the blame somehow falls on James, yet again. Just because Barkley is talking about James again does not mean he needs to be taken seriously.