To say that NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley had a decorated career would be an understatement. From being drafted fifth overall in the 1984 NBA Draft, to being an Olympic gold medalist with the 1992 Dream Team and the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in that same year, Barkley has racked up quite a few career accomplishments. However, the one thing that eluded Barkley during his career was an NBA championship.
Barkley has been critical of the “new NBA” and it’s super team culture in which superstars team up to try to win rings in the past. Barkley also insists that if he could do things all over again he still would not be interested in joining other stars and forming a super team. Even if it meant sacrificing the opportunity to win multiple championships.
In today’s NBA you see a lot of superstars joining forces when they have the opportunity to in free agency. As a player although you never won any rings you had a really decorated career, do you value that over the fact that you never won an NBA championship?
“I’d rather have no rings than join a super team.”
Barkley said on a recent appearance on the Unnecessary Roughness Podcast. You can listen to the full interview below.
Is that because you feel like players get more respect being the number one option on their team than they would if they were the second or third option on a championship team?
“It doesn’t matter what option you are, sports are about competition. Like I admire Patrick Ewing for trying to bring a championship to New York, I admire Reggie Miller for trying to bring a championship to Indiana, I admire Michael Jordan for not leaving when they were getting beat by the Pistons every year. He didn’t pack up and say let me go play with Magic or Bird, there’s something to be said about that. When Dirk Nowitzki finally won the championship he could be like, ‘yes, I did this’.”
“It’s easy to get a bunch of superstars or really good players together and say let’s build a super team.”
Super teams have been prevalent over the past few NBA seasons. LeBron, Wade and Bosh formed the Big 3 in South Beach in 2010 then Durant joined the Golden State Warriors in 2016, Chris Paul joined James Harden in H-Town last off-season and now there’s a real possibility that Kawhi Leonard joins LeBron in LA.
However, it could be argued that super teams have existed for years. Shaq and Kobe did the 3-peat, the Spurs won 3 in 5 years. Even Barkley himself was on the Rockets with Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Scottie Pippen. But he doesn’t think that team in Houston was a super team.
Would you consider when you Hakeem and Scottie played together a version of a super team, because you guys had stars?
“We were old and we weren’t very good. First of all I got traded and then Scottie tried to join us but I had nothing left in the tank but that’s not the same because we never thought about that in our prime. We weren’t any good in Houston.”
From Barkley’s point of view the most disappointing part of players teaming up in free agency is the fact that the NBA’s competitive balance has suffered because of it. If all of the good players are divided into two or three teams who are players supposed to compete against? Barkley also questioned player’s loyalty when deciding to leave the teams that have drafted them to form super teams.
“I just don’t understand why you would want to do that. I mean can you win? Yes you can win like that but number one I would want loyalty from my city. We didn’t appreciate when LeBron went to Miami the same way we didn’t appreciate it when Kevin went to Golden State.
It’s also worth noting that during an appearance on the Unnecessary Roughness Podcast earlier this year Barkley said he would consider leaving his role as an analyst on Inside The NBA if LeBron were to join another super team.
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