CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The war of words between LeBron James and Charles Barkley continues.
Barkley, joining ESPN 1000’s Waddle and Silvy in Chicago Tuesday afternoon, stood by his original criticism of the Cavaliers’ superstar forward and responded to James’ “hater” retort to Barkley’s analysis.
“My job is to give my opinion on basketball,” Barkley said during the radio interview. “My basketball opinion is strictly about basketball. I never talk about a guy’s personal life. That’s inappropriate. He was clearly offended because he took it to a personal level.”
The clash between James and former NBA star and current analyst for TNT’s Inside the NBA began when Barkley referred to James’ recent comments about the need for a “playmaker” on the Cavs’ roster as “whiny.”
Barkley also questioned James’ will to compete, which set the four-time NBA MVP off in a private conversation with ESPN.
“He’s a hater,” James said of Barkley. “What makes what he says credible? Because he’s on TV?”
James also brought some of Barkley’s personal issues to light.
“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James told ESPN. “I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.
“All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”
Barkley responded to James’ return attack during Tuesday’s interview.
“I have no problem with what LeBron said, some of it was true,” Barkley told ESPN 1000. “I don’t overreact and I’m never going to get personal. I stick by what I said.”
“I think when you don’t like the message you just kill the messenger,” he added.
James, who currently has more important issues to worry about — such as the Cavaliers’ 7-8 record in the month of January — added that if Barkley wants to meet to discuss his criticisms, “the schedule’s out there.”
“Why I got to clear the air,” Barkley asked during the interview. “It’s not going to change my opinion.”