Ver­bal war­fare

LeBron calls Barkley ‘a hater’ as Cava­liers su­per­star fires back at former NBA star

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY TOM WITHERS

“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.” LeBron James

LeBron James is done bow­ing to Sir Charles.

Af­ter he was crit­i­cized by Charles Barkley for ques­tion­ing Cleve­land’s front of­fice, James tore into the former NBA star and opin­ion­ated TV com­men­ta­tor on Mon­day night fol­low­ing a loss in Dal­las. James not only coun­tered what was said about him but he also at­tacked Barkley’s char­ac­ter for some off-the-court mis­steps.

“I’m not go­ing to let him dis­re­spect my legacy like that,” James told ESPN af­ter the Cavs lost 104-97 to Dal­las, drop­ping the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons to 7-8 in Jan­uary. “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 has never been one to hold back his opin­ion on James or any other player, but the 11time All-Star was par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal of James last week af­ter Cleve­land’s star com­plained about Cleve­land’s ros­ter be­ing “top-heavy” and ques­tion­ing whether the team’s front of­fice was sat­is­fied with one ti­tle.

Barkley said James was “whiny” and “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” and won­dered about his mo­tives. Barkley called James “the best player in the world” but won­dered if he re­ally wanted to com­pete. James ini­tially dis­missed Barkley, say­ing he was only try­ing to boost TV rat­ings. Barkley works as an in-stu­dio host for TNT.

How­ever, James de­cided he couldn’t let those com­ments go and turned on Barkley, who never won an NBA ti­tle.

“He’s a hater. What makes what he says cred­i­ble? Be­cause he’s on TV?” James said. “I know he wanted to re­tire a long time ago, but he can’t. He’s stuck up on that stage ev­ery week.”

James also said if Barkley wants to con­tinue any dis­cus­sion, he knows where to find him.

“If this makes him want to talk to me, the sched­ule’s out there,” James said. “He knows ev­ery road arena I’ll be in. Don’t just come up to me at All-Star and shake my hand and smile.”

This isn’t the first time James has fired back this sea­son at de­trac­tors. He was up­set when New York Knicks pres­i­dent Phil Jack­son re­ferred to his close friends and busi­ness part­ners as his “posse.”

James hasn’t for­got­ten Jack­son’s words, fir­ing back at him to ESPN as well.

“I went to see (Carmelo An­thony) at the Gar­den two years ago when we were in New York,” James said. “They played Port­land. I went up to a suite at half­time, and Phil Jack­son didn’t say one word to me.”

James and the Cavs have been strug­gling lately as they try to de­fend their ti­tle. All-Star for­ward Kevin Love has been deal­ing with back spasms and missed Mon­day’s game and start­ing guard J.R. Smith re­mains side­lined with a bro­ken thumb.

James in­sists the Cavs just need to play bet­ter and in the in­terim he vowed not to let any­one crit­i­cize him.

“I’m tired of bit­ing my tongue,” James said. “There’s a new sher­iff in town.”


In this Jan. 25 file photo, Cleve­land Cava­liers’ LeBron James waits dur­ing a time­out in the first half of the team’s NBA game against the Sacra­mento Kings in Cleve­land.

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