I get LeBron James' frustration. When a guy's been banging on you periodically for most of your career, sometimes you just get fed up.
And so there was TNT analyst Charles Barkley the other day, calling LeBron "whiny" for demanding more from an owner who's given him pretty much everything, saying his insistence on another piece to the Cavaliers' puzzle is a sign that LeBron just "didn't want to compete." The first might have had some validity; the second was patently absurd, given what happened last June.
In any case, LeBron had heard enough.
"I'm not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that," James told ESPN a few nights later. "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."
The Blob's take: Pretty good comeback. Actually, a great comeback.
A lot of other people's take: He shouldn't have gotten personal, because Barkley didn't.
Um ... excuse me?
Listen, when you call someone of LeBron's stature "whiny" and say he doesn't want to compete, that sounds pretty personal to me. If it isn't, the standards for what is personal have changed somewhere along the line without my knowledge.
The bare-wood truth is, telling a professional athlete he doesn't want to compete is as deeply personal an insult as you can level. And it's interesting Barkley would go there, being a guy who apparently didn't want to compete himself back in his playing days, when he did a lot of the same sort of whining about the 76ers before heading off to Phoenix, a team he knew had all the pieces in place to compete for an NBA title.
Not that, you know, the Round Mound of Selective Memory ever chased rings like these guys do today.
But then, that's Chuckles. Like a lot of old-school Joes, he's a big do-as-I-say, not-as-I-did guy. Or perhaps more accurately, "Do as I remember myself doing, even if it's not what I did."
Not to get personal or anything.