With the NBA in the midst of its usual winter downturn, the beef between LeBron James and Charles Barkley has helped inject some flavor into the mid-season. Since James went off in a post-game tirade earlier this week, the sports world has been obsessed with who emerged victorious between the two.
That conversation hasn't been limited to social media and barbershops; players past and present continue to weigh in on the reigning champion's outburst. One of the most surprising names in LeBron's corner? Warriors forward Draymond Green, a direct rival and one of the league's most polarizing players.
Say what you will about Green, but he tends to speak his mind no matter what the topic. On an episode of his new Uninterrupted podcast Dray Day, he talked to Bay Area columnist Marcus Thompson about the beef:
I got two different views on that. My first view on that, as soon as I read that comment, I said, Oh. Ooooooh. Yeah, destroy him!
I’m all for destroying Barkley. You know, Barkley talk a lot. A whole lot for a guy who has not won a championship. I think Shaq should talk about the champions. Kenny should talk about the champions. Ernie can talk about the champions. When it comes time to speak about someone who has a championship, Barkley should be muted. They should have some type of graphic up there where you can like, you know how on “Around the Horn” where they just ice somebody out on the screen? They should be be able to do that with Barkley any time the name of a champion come up.
I thought that was incredible when I first read that. Then, I looked back to see what Barkley said, and then my reaction was like, Ah, LeBron. I don't know if you needed to go that deep, LeBron. For me to feel like that about Charles Barkley, [he] really had to cut deep. He went deep for something that wasn't as deep. However, it was an accumulation of things.
So when I heard that, I said okay, kill him LeBron. I like that. I like to see somebody destroy Charles Barkley like that. Then I stepped back and I said, okay that's a little too far LeBron. Then I thought about it again and I was like, that's an accumulation of stuff. Hey, may the best man win, I think LeBron won that one.
When Green thinks even Ernie Johnson can talk about champions over Barkley, you know there's little love lost between the Warriors star and the TNT analyst.
Green's sentiment has been fairly common amongst players who have spoken up about the beef. Dwyane Wade stuck up for his buddy this week, expressing joy at James finally taking it to one of his loudest critics:
Thank God he finally said something. A lot of guys take a lot of shots at him. For whatever reason, he's always been, of all of the great players in the game, he just has kept his mouth closed and continued to focus on what he need to. But it's about time he said something. Guys ride on him, especially ex-players. When you got a history, when you can go and Google your history, you need to be a little careful of 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, especially that guy on TV, he's acting like he just walked on water. I like the fact that LeBron called him out and told him about himself a little bit. Humble yourself. LeBron is who he is, we all have flaws, but when your flaws are a little bit more, you should shut up.
It's not all that surprising for Wade to come out in defense of his former teammate and good friend, but Green has been a thorn in King James' side for years. They've had heated confrontations in the NBA Finals, and have gone to extreme lengths to get in each other's heads when they're up against one another on the hardwood.
But real recognizes real, and Green is sympathetic to the amount of criticism LeBron takes. They may not be best buddies anytime soon, but two guys who often feel the glare of the media certainly share a common bond. Maybe they can take on Skip Bayless next.