On the Bench: Lebron James and Charles Barkley in the war of the words

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By Trent Strafaci

During the 18 months of listening to political campaigning, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton calling each other any name that came into their heads, I used to escape into the wide world of sports. About the only thing that was distressing in this world was Brady’s “deflategate,” until the fued between Lebron James and Charles Barkley. While James is one of the best players ever and one of the greatest role models  in basketball, Barkley has a right to criticize him in this situation. The media has the right to criticize the best players in their given sport.

Lebron James and Barkley, a commentator for TNT, have a long ugly history together beginning in 2010. In Barkley’s opinion, James took the punk way of winning a championship by joining the Miami Heat to build a super team with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. After that, the war of words escalated even further.

Barkley continued even after James went back to Cleveland in 2014 by calling him a ring-chaser. Barkley has no love for James, and, until 2017, James took the high road by ignoring all of Barkley’s criticisms. Barkley is doing his job of reporting which is totally fine. The media has the right to state their opinion.

Recently, James said he believes that to become World Champions again, the Cavaliers need to fortify the roster by recruiting another playmaker, according to ESPN.

Barkley took the bait. He, of course, came back with a barb about James on TNT, calling him inappropriate and whiny and saying that the Cavaliers give him everything he wants. He seems to be referencing the fact that the Cavaliers have the highest payroll in the NBA, and most of the salary goes to Lebron James, who rakes in 30 million a year, making up a third of the payroll. Barkley was 100 percent right. In fact, the Cavaliers have been willing to pay the luxury tax of 22 million this year to keep James happy and their hopes of winning another championship alive. Barkley went on to say, “He does not want to compete.”

Maybe Barkley went too far.

At least, James thought so. He responded with an all out character assault, according to ESPN: “I’m not the one who threw somebody through the window. I never spit on a kid, and I never left unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Las Vegas partying.”

What Lebron said is true, but it’s sad that he sank to Barkley’s level. James is unquestionably one the greatest basketball players of all-time, and he has a squeaky-clean record off the court. He does not need to defend himself. His legacy stands on its own.

I don’t need or want any more name-calling and lying. Sports should be a contest of abilities, not words. Back off Lebron, you are better than this. Barkley, you may have a career in politics.

Dr. Fitzgerald said: this is your opinion but it’s all the way at the end of the article….most of this is just a summary recap but this opinion down here should be the main point and the central argument and then you dedicate the column to persuading us on your opinion….that you’re right…

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