Charles Barkley's Criticism of Kobe Bryant Was Wrong

Mark OgarteCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2010

According to an article by Chris Tomasson of fanhouse.com, Charles Barkley bashed LeBron James, saying his legacy would take a "serious hit" should he fail to win multiple titles.

Afterward, however, he denigrated Kobe Bryant, too.

WHAT. DID. HE. SAY?

"'I like him,' Barkley said of James. 'I respect him. I've said consistently that he's the best player. (The Lakers') Kobe Bryant has Lamar Odom, (Andrew) Bynum and (Pau) Gasol. If LeBron had those guys, he'd win. But it's nothing personal (against James),' he added."

Nothing personal about Kobe, too, Charles?

Let's take some time to reflect on last season, when I can remember that James also had pretty good teammates to work with.

Barkley probably forgot about sharpshooter and versatile defender Delonte West along with tough, capable big-man Anderson Varejao; athletic swingman Jamario Moon and serviceable pickup Anthony Parker; and a host of all-star caliber teammates like Shaquille O'Neal, Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams. 

That's a pretty good core, really deep and talented, to say the least, and the Cleveland Cavaliers' best records the past two seasons speak for themselves. Yet LeBron still couldn't enter the NBA Finals with these guys, given the benefit of a home-court advantage throughout the playoffs?

Gimme a break.

Make no mistake, Bryant had really good teammates as well. Watch Game 7 of last season's Finals, and you'll know. 

But so did James. 

And as for individual performance, who won it when the game was on the line? 

K-O-B-E.

Take away Bryant's six game-winning shots for the 2009-10 season and the Phoenix Suns probably would have earned a better regular season record than the Lakers. And the way Phoenix played on their home court during the playoffs, who knows? They might have toppled L.A. with a home-court advantage in the Western Conference Finals.

However, it was Bryant's season-long flair in the clutch that gave his team the edge, en route to a second consecutive title.

And for the record, it was Bryant who had to carry a team composed of inconsistent bench players and sub-par shooters throughout the season—just look at the Lakers struggles against the zone. Not only that, but he had to do it with multiple injury woes.

Nonetheless, the 31-year old superstar persevered, and his teammates came along with him.

Now, don't those say a lot about Kobe being the true best player in the game today? 

To earn comparisons with Michael Jordan is a tremendous honor, and truly says a lot about Bryant's competitive nature. 

To be mentioned in the same breath as the other former number 23, that's a different story. 

Let the story not be told. Excuse me, but it's not even worth the telling.

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