If you ask Charles Barkley which five players he has on his all-time top five NBA players list today, this is the answer he'll give:
1. Michael Jordan
2. Oscar Robertson
3. Wilt Chamberlain
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
5. Bill Russell
If you notice, he doesn't have LeBron James on that list. And according to him, he'll never have LeBron James on that list. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not in five years. And not in…well, we think you get the point. LeBron James is not going to crack the top five. No way, no how. But Barkley insists that he's not hating on LeBron. He just doesn't see how LeBron is going to be able to leapfrog anyone who is already on the list.
"He can't get any higher than where he is," he revealed recently, before rattling off his top five players of all-time. "I have Kobe [Bryant], LeBron, Tim Duncan, Jerry West, and Elgin Baylor after that. Those are my top 10. Those second five fluctuate, but who do I take off my top five? LeBron can get to No. 6 on my list, but here's the thing that bothers me about the whole LeBron debate: I want to know why y'all killed Kobe Bryant! Y'all don't even compare him to LeBron anymore. You are skipping him for LeBron and going right to Michael. I'm still going to take five [titles] over two. It makes me laugh with my friends—the media just kills Kobe Bryant. Like he's dead! Five still is a lot more than two."
Hold up. Let us grab our calculators real quick and—tap, tap, tap—Chuck's right! Five is better than two. Also, he makes some pretty good points here. LeBron has crept into a lot of peoples' top five lists in the last six months. But who would you take out of Barkley's top five in order to make room for LeBron? You could make an argument for him. But it would have to be a damn good argument to get us to remove any of those five players in favor of him. We also think that, until he either gets a sixth ring or plays long enough to break a ton of NBA records, we can't rank him ahead of Kobe just yet. Eventually? Maybe. But let's let LeBron continue to prove himself before we throw him up at the top of any list. He's still got a ways to go before he truly deserves it.
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[via Sports Illustrated]