Charles Barkley and his crew on "Inside the NBA" have come under fire recently for their harsh criticism of players.
With recent attacks against Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and others, the crew is starting to look more like cranky old-timers than actual NBA analysts, and social media has really put them on blast for it.
But what is it that has actually changed? After years of being on-air together, is it the crew that has grown too harsh, or is it today's players that have gone too soft? In a recent article on Bleacher Report, Sam Amick tried to answer that very question.
And while the finger of blame is dependant on one's own worldview, it is a fact that the media has been called out by prominent players in the past. Relating to Barkley, specifically, he told one story to Amick of the time he got into an hours-long phone call with Kobe Bryant after a 2006 playoff game.
Well, when he had that (2006) playoff game where he wouldn’t shoot (in a Game 7 Lakers loss to Phoenix in the first round), I called him out after the game. And (former Lakers coach) Phil Jackson called him out later. Remember the game where he wouldn’t shoot the ball? I was the first one to call him out because we had that game that night. And he called me going crazy. We had a back and forth for like five hours in the middle of the night. It was hilarious.
Seriously — well, in fairness, it was probably three hours. He was upset by what I said, and we went back and forth. Actually, the thing that was funny about it was that he would not pick up the phone. So we were texting each other back and forth for three hours. It was hilarious. And I was laughing. He would motherfuck me, and I’m laughing, like, ‘Yo man, you know what you did. It’s nothing personal. I didn’t like what you did.’ And my thing was, ‘I’ve been calling you the best basketball player in the world for the last three or four years and you’ve never texted me to say ‘Thank you.’ But what you did tonight was not cool, and you shouldn’t have done it.'"
Barkley has never been shy about calling out players he feels could be doing better. At the time, Kobe jeopardized a playoff game for the sake of making a point, and Chuck laid into him for it -- totaling hours of heated debate over text.
While nothing ever really came of it, Bryant did push back against Barkley at the time, just like LeBron, Durant, and other prominent players are pushing back today.
It seems the media-vs-player dynamic isn't something that's very new, and it's probably not something that will go away anytime soon. If a stone-cold killer like Kobe was pressed enough to confront the media, it's really no wonder why so many others have done the same.