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Charles Barkley: To Earn Respect, Kevin Durant Must Stop Joining Contenders and ‘Win a Championship on his Own’ - Compare.bet® US
A basketball player's slam dunk during a game

Charles Barkley: To Earn Respect, Kevin Durant Must Stop Joining Contenders and ‘Win a Championship on his Own’

When it comes to voicing his opinions, Charles Barkley never will be a practitioner of load management.

He says what he thinks day in and day out, no matter who might be offended. Barkley hasn’t spoken with once close friend Michael Jordan for more than 10 years because Jordan was offended when Barkley criticized his decision-making as the Charlotte Hornets owner.

“It’s a really unfortunate situation for me and him,” Barkley told Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks late last year. “But I’m going to do my job, first and foremost. Because I can’t criticize other coaches and general managers and give him a pass because he’s my best friend. I just can’t do that.”

So, it should probably come as no surprise that Barkley has strong words about Kevin Durant, who engineered his trade from the Brooklyn Nets to the Phoenix Suns and likely will make his Suns’ debut Friday against Oklahoma City.

Barkley doesn’t like the fact that Durant is repeating the move the made in the summer of 2016 when he joined the Golden State Warriors, who were coming off a 73-win season and an NBA Finals appearance.

The Suns aren’t a transcendent team like those Warriors. But before the Durant trade, they were, when healthy, one of the favorites to come out of the Western Conference.

As Barkley sees it, Durant is piling on, ruining one franchise — the Nets — while joining a team that already was a championship contender.

“For old guys like myself, he’s going to have to win a championship on his own before we give him the respect he thinks he deserves,” Barkley said. “It’s not just me saying this. LeBron (James) said he had to win a championship without (Dwyane) Wade. Kobe (Bryant) said he had to win a championship without Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal). Players see it differently than media or fans.”

Barkley’s comments reflect his disdain for the super-teams that players like Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden have tried to create. While some think the trade deadline movement was good for the NBA because it even took away attention from the Super Bowl for a couple of days, Barkley looks at it from the perspective of a team like the Nets, who gave Durant and Irving everything they wanted — including the coach of their choice — only to see the two stars separately demand trades within 48 hours of each other.

“I think it’s a big problem in the NBA,” Barkley said. “The NBA has to find a way to put a stop to this. Players say, ‘Let me sign with this team and get the most money I can get,’ then, ‘I can screw this contract in a couple of years.’

“You’re killing franchises. That’s the one negative about super-teams. When LeBron left Cleveland, they were dead. When AD (Anthony Davis) left New Orleans, they were dead. When Kevin and Russell (Westbrook) left OKC, it’s dead. You get one super team, but you ruin a lot more teams.”

All that said, Barkley believes the trade was a great move for the Suns, even though they had to give up Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and four first-round draft picks. Phoenix, he said, now has a “great chance” to win the Western Conference.

“They weren’t going to win it the way they were constructed,” Barkley said. “When you get a player with Kevin’s ability you have to do that. My biggest concern is their bench, but you can find guys off the street to be on the bench. They got two superstars in Kevin and (Devin) Booker. That’s a pretty nice one-two punch.”

Barkley said one of the biggest benefactors of the trade will be point guard Chris Paul. With Durant, Booker and to a lesser extent Deandre Ayton capable of 20-plus points most nights, Paul won’t have to worry about being a scorer. He can do what he does best: Run an offense and be the Point God.

“His responsibility lessens quite a bit,” Barkley said. “He’s just got to be the fourth best player.”

Barkley does wonder how Ayton will handle a diminished role, particularly on the offensive end. In the six games prior to the All-Star break, Ayton was averaging 26.3 points and 15.3 shots per game. Both those numbers likely will come down with Durant on the floor. Will Ayton be satisfied with fewer touches or discouraged that he’s not getting the ball coming off one of the best stretches of his career and let his emotions affect the rest of his game?

“I think he’s the wildcard. He’s the person who’s going to have to sacrifice the most,” Barkley said. “He’s not going to get nearly as many shots as he was getting. Nobody wants to play defense and rebound, but he’s going to have to be that anchor, mainly with rebounding because they’re going to have a small team.

“But he’s got no choice. He has to understand that, ‘Oh, shit, I’m playing with KD and Booker. I’m going to be the third option, but we can win a championship.’”

Barkley doesn’t buy the notion that the Suns are in win-or-bust mode, primarily because Durant still has three years left on his contract.

“It’s really a nice little window they’re going to have,” he said. “This year is going to be huge, but with Booker and KD, they’re going to have a really good team for the next two to three years.”

Assuming, of course, Durant doesn’t ask for another trade.

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