NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Barkley did not mince words on his feelings about Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors.
The basketball Hall of Famer told ESPN Wednesday that Durant is cheating the system leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to form a super-team in Golden State with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
“I have no problem with a guy at the end of his career like Karl Malone, or Gary Payton I think did it, something like that. I have no problem with a guy at the end of his career … we’re talking about a guy who’s 27 years old, who has led the league in scoring four out of the last five years, who is a former MVP.”
He continued, “That’s my problem. Listen, if you get traded, you get traded. But when you all get together and say, ‘Let’s dominate the league,’ and try to cheat your way to a championship – don’t you want to compete? I would love to go back in my day and hey, let me call Michael Jordan and Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and let’s just dominate the NBA.”
Barkley said he was “disappointed” Durant chose to go to the Warriors because he’s “gonna kind of gravy train” on the team.
“We develop this thing where you keep telling these guys, ‘Hey man, if you don’t win a championship you’re a bum. I don’t feel like a bum,” Barkley told ESPN, referencing never winning an NBA championship during his career. “I’m pretty sure Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and John Stockton – we think we’re pretty damn good. We could have played with some of those other guys and kind of cheated our way to a championship. But there is this thing that started with this new generation where these guys feel so much pressure. Everybody wants to win.”
Barkley, however, demanded to be traded twice during his career to contenders. In 1992, the Philadelphia 76ers traded Barkley to the Phoenix Suns and then in 1996, the Suns traded him to the Rockets coming off back-to-back championships.
Barkley added that there are only going to be “three to four competitive teams” in the NBA, while “guys on bad teams making $25 million a year.”
“First of all the fans love their teams, they love sports. But they’re not going to go see Sacramento, Indiana, Miami, these bad teams where guys are making $10, $20, $30 million a year and they don’t have a chance to compete. I mean, that’s where we’re going. We’re going to kill the golden goose. Everybody’s going to be making a lot of money, but other than five teams we’re going to be putting a shabby product out there. That’s what’s going to kill the NBA in the next few years in my opinion,” Barkley said.
During the last lockout, the owners pushed to make changes to the agreement so that teams, especially those in smaller markets, would have a bigger advantage in retaining players.
Commissioner Adam Silver has said in the past that those changes were effective, but the influx of new money into the system this summer from the league’s new $24 billion television contract, and Stephen Curry’s bargain contract that was negotiated when he was struggling with ankle injuries, conspired to give the Warriors enough wiggle room to spend $54 million on Durant.
The league and the players’ union can opt out of the current CBA this year, and both sides have been negotiating to try to avoid another work stoppage.