Charles Barkley, Who Once Played For A Super-Team In Houston, Is Rooting Against The Nets Because They’re A Super-Team
Charles Barkley, who once played for a super-team in Houston that did not win a title, says he’s rooting against the Brooklyn Nets because he sees them as a super-team favored to win the NBA championship.
James Harden forced his way out of Houston and to Brooklyn in January, while Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant teamed up in free agency in 2019 to join forces with the Nets.
“I’m not a fan of super teams,” Barkley said Wednesday on a conference call (via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News). “If they win it, they win it. But I want to make it perfectly clear — I’m rooting against those guys. I’m rooting against all super teams. I’m old school.”
Barkley also said Wednesday that in his day, star players tended to remain with one team for their entire careers rather than chase rings.
“Even though we didn’t win a championship, the Sixers were worth watching when I was there,” Barkley said. “The Knicks were worth watching. The Pacers were worth watching when Reggie [Miller] was there. Same with Atlanta and Dominique [Wilkins]. So I just don’t think it’s good for business, but these young kids, they all fold to peer pressure and feel like they got to win a championship or their life sucks. . . .
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“I feel good about my legacy. I’m sure Patrick [Ewing] and John [Stockton] and Karl [Malone] do. LeBron [James] started this super team thing and it’s the way the game is played.”
OK, a couple of things here. There were definitely super-teams in the ‘80s and ‘90s — long before LeBron.
The Showtime Lakers featured Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, the 80s Celtics Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish. The ‘90s’ Bulls starred Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman (who was allowed to leave the team during the 1997 NBA Finals in order to go to Las Vegas).
Of course, Barkley himself joined forces with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler at the end of his career. Although he has since denied he was “chasing a ring,” his comments at the time indicated something different.
“I’m very excited,” he told two Philadelphia TV stations at the time. “Obviously, it’s something I wanted to do. Houston was my first priority.
“At this stage of my career, I’m not a great player. I’m a good player,” he added. “But with Hakeem and Clyde, I have a great shot at a championship.”
The Nets have engendered a lot of hatred because Irving and Durant joined forces to come to Brooklyn (along with DeAndre Jordan) — while Harden forced his way out of Houston — but is that really any different than a team’s GM or President putting a super-team together?
Maybe some people just don’t like the fact that in this case it was the players’ engineering the construction of a super-team and not an executive.
In a signal that he was in favor of player empowerment at the time, Barkley said when he was dealt to Houston: “I called the shots. When push comes to shove, I think you have to stand up to the system.”