Charles Barkley, TNT’s resident hot take dispenser on “Inside the NBA,” has been a harsh critic of any NBA players who make noise in public about their case of greener-grass syndrome.
He went after LeBron James for choosing the Los Angeles Lakers rather than a team that had a realistic chance to contend and improve his basketball legacy in free agency.
And he went hard after Anthony Davis for airing his grievances in public, even going so far as to himself publicly call out NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and ask Silver to veto any Davis-to-the-Lakers trade the New Orleans Pelicans could cook up before the deadline.
Now he’s got Durant in his crosshairs again, along with LeBron’s former teammate, Kyrie Irving, skewering them both for stoking rumors of a collaboration in which the two players would join the New York Knicks when they are free agents this offseason.
Barkley correctly pointed out that Irving and Durant are both cantankerous interview subjects, clearly not the kinds of players who embrace the media spotlight — and yet they want to play in the brightest light under the most intense media scrutiny in the league.
Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated got Barkley’s thoughts on the rumors, and Sir Charles did not hold back.
“You ain’t tough enough to play in New York,” Barkley said of Durant.
I asked Charles Barkley today what he would say to Kevin Durant if Durant came to him for advice about signing with the Knicks: “You ain’t tough enough to play in New York.”
— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) March 12, 2019
He went a step further, saying Irving and Durant might not have the “mental makeup” to play in the Big Apple.
“Those guys are complaining about the media asking questions,” Barkley said. “Maybe NY isn’t for them.”
More Barkley: ” I dont think Durant or Kyrie are tough enough to play in NY. Kyrie’s a very good player. Kevin’s a great, great player. But Im not sure they have the mental make up to play in NY. Those guys are complaining about the media asking questions. Maybe NY isnt for them.
— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) March 12, 2019
Irving, who has begun to pick up a reputation in Boston as something of a clubhouse cancer, constantly ripping his teammates to reporters, says he is “still learning” when it comes to dealing with the media.
This is something of a curious tack to take for an eight-year veteran who has had nearly two years to adjust to Boston’s infamous media negativity and who got to watch James handle the media in Cleveland for three straight deep playoff runs.
“The way I’ve handled things, it hasn’t been perfect,” Irving said Sunday. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes that I take full responsibility for. I apologize. I haven’t done it perfectly. I haven’t said the right things all the time. I don’t want to sit on a place like I’m on a pedestal from anybody. I’m a normal human being that makes mistakes. For me, I think because of how fixated I was on trying to prove other people wrong, I got into a lot of habits that were bad, like reading stuff and reacting emotionally. That’s just not who I am.”
Which … if that’s not who you are, Kyrie, then who are you?
Not for nothing did Barkley once call Irving “one of the most miserable people I’ve ever seen.”
Durant, meanwhile, has his own media rap sheet.
There are the Instagram burner accounts he’s created to argue with 13-year-olds.
There’s Durant going after The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss in the course of trying to dispel all those Knicks rumors amid the collapsing chemistry of the Warriors’ locker room, in which Durant unleashed this gem of a rant:
“He just give his whole opinion on stuff and make it seem like it coming from me. And he just walk around here and don’t talk to nobody, just walk in here, and survey, and then write something like that, and now you all piling on me because I don’t want to talk to y’all about that. I have nothing to do with the Knicks, I don’t know who traded (Kristaps) Porzingis, it’s got nothing to do with me.”
This does not change the fact that not only are the rumors about Durant’s destination next season so persistent that even coach Steve Kerr had to speak up about them, but there’s still the matter of Durant’s beef with Draymond Green from earlier in this season.
Two of the most notoriously thin-skinned athletes in the NBA want to team up on the Knicks? You don’t have to be a professional observer of NBA basketball to know that you’ve got a better chance of seeing the Lakers win out from here all the way to the NBA Finals this year than you do of Irving and Durant going to New York and turning into the 2016 Cavaliers with Durant playing the LeBron role and Irving playing himself.
Let’s face it: New York media would eat Irving and Durant for lunch and still have room for a plate of cupcakes.
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