Barkley gives same answer his ex-friend Jordan gave in critiquing LeBron James
Oh, to be a fly on the wall when Hall of Fame players such as Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan are discussing how they would guard players from today’s era of hoops? How great would that be to hear the two talk about how they would guard a player like LeBron James…
You know these dudes are still crazy competitive despite being old now and believe they would beat the great players of today if only they could be 28 years-old again. And you know they talk about it among each other — probably during Vegas trips or while they are golfing.
This couldn’t be more evident than when Charles Barkley gave the same response to the question of how would he guard LeBron James that Michael Jordan gave. Although Barkley and Jordan are apparently not friends anymore, the two were close pals for a long time and probably discussed James quite a bit.
Here is Barkley’s response to a recent interview via Sports Illustrated. Below that is Jordan’s response to the same question.
On guarding LeBron James if he were in his basketball prime
I believe you have to push him left because every time he goes left he shoots a jumper. Every time he goes right he is going to the basket. You have to give him space because he is a unique guy: 6’8” and 265 pounds, a beautiful, perfect body who can run and out jump you. So every time he goes left, he will shoot a step back jumper. You have to give him a little space and make him shoot jumpers. Because if he is coming at you full speed, you are in trouble.
Here is what Jordan said a few years back.
“So if I have to guard him… I’m gonna push him left so nine times out of 10, he’s gonna shoot a jump shot. If he goes right, he’s going to the hole and I can’t stop him. So I ain’t letting him go right.”
And just to complete the trilogy, here is what LeBron thought of the analysis His Airness said about him.
“That theory is wrong, I guess,” James said of the Jordan report.
For the record, I don’t believe Barkley or Jordan would have checked LeBron in a game. Remember, MJ was a two-guard and the Bulls had Scottie Pippen who is bigger and most likely would have been given the assignment of James. Why would the Bulls opt for the smaller Jordan?
In Barkley’s case, he was on a few different teams and he was a traditional power forward (although he did have some stretch four attributes), so the thought of him guarding the much faster, quicker and explosive James seems like a tall order. LeBron is effective and does play the four-spot often, but most coaches would opt for a more versatile wing defender to match up when James is put at the four-spot.
*Barkley was an athletic and explosive player when he entered the league back in the 1980s, but it still seems like a stretch to see him guard someone with the agility, skill and playing style of LeBron.
So essentially, this is kind of like LeBron telling us how he would have guarded Hakeem Olajuwon had he played in the 80’s and 90’s.