LeBron James is mad. His Cleveland Cavaliers are 4-6 in their last 10 games, and fell to the lowly Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, 104-97. The former MVP needed to vent, and he vented in the direction of Hall of Fame player and current TNT mouthpiece Charles Barkley, unleashing a rant that was cathartic both for him and any fans who have grown tired of Barkley's bullshit.
James has been a frequent target of Sir Charles throughout the years. Barkley, like most media types, savaged LeBron in the wake of The Decision, but has never called off his attacks over the ensuing years, unlike most commentators whose names don't rhyme with "Bip Skayless." The Round Mound of Rebound recently called out the Cavs superstar for publicly declaring that the team needed to fill out the roster.
Teammate Tristan Thompson was asked about Barkley's comments following Monday's loss, and LeBron stepped in, deciding he'd had enough:
"I'm not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that. 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."
James also responded to one of Barkley's favorite (and most obnoxious) points of contention: that today's players are too friendly on the court:
"Go watch the '93 Finals when John Paxson hit the shot," James said. "Barkley and Jordan were laughing and joking with each other during one of the games while somebody's shooting a free throw. In the Finals. But, oh, nobody were friends back then."
The three-time NBA champ also noted what many NBA observers have guessed at for years regarding Barkley's spot on TNT's "Inside the NBA" studio show: "I know he wanted to retire a long time ago, but he can't. He's stuck up on that stage every week."
He then challenged Barkley to come seek him out: "And if this makes him want to talk to me, the schedule's out there. 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."
Magnificent. This was the verbal equivalent of LeBron's Game 7 block on Andre Iguodala. He destroyed Barkley without resorting to the easiest possible attack—the fact that Barkley never won a title. Somehow that makes the smackdown even more savage.
And that, my friends, is the mark of a true champion.