At this point, Charles Barkley’s distaste for the Golden State Warriors’ brand of basketball is well-established. He’s been railing against the Dubs’ predilection toward bombing from beyond the arc for years, referring to them dismissively as “a jump-shooting team” since back when Mark Jackson was on the bench. He has continued to hold that line over the years, even after Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Steve Kerr and company won the 2015 NBA championship thanks in large part to all those jumpers Chuck hated.
Barkley doubled down on that stance this past summer after the Cleveland Cavaliers knocked off the Dubs in their 2016 Finals rematch, this time dinging Golden State — now featuring “cheater” Kevin Durant — for playing “little girly basketball” in a very sober, serious and restrained debate that took place at a nightclub inside a Lake Tahoe casino against Jerry Rice. Chuck liked that particular take so much that he brought back for a national audience during the pregame show before TNT’s Thursday night doubleheader, which will be capped by the Warriors taking on James Harden and the Houston Rockets:
Who's the best in the West? ????
…Chuck's at it again. https://t.co/Yom38Ojf49
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 2, 2016
Charles Barkley explains why he doesn't like the way the Golden State Warriors play basketball pic.twitter.com/DaTud8Lwje
— LeRob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) December 2, 2016
As the TNT crew batted around the question of which Western Conference team is the best, Barkley initially hemmed and hawed before eventually settling on the San Antonio Spurs. Kenny Smith lit into Barkley, proclaiming him a “Golden State hater” and noting that at no point during the Warriors’ consecutive runs to the NBA Finals had Barkley tapped them as the West’s top team.
“I’m just saying, listen: maybe I’m old school, but I’m never going to like that little girly basketball where you have to outscore people,” Barkley said. “I’m biased against girl basketball.”
Smith, ever the assist man, decided to throw Barkley what looked like a shot but actually served as a life preserver.
“You ever watch UConn?” Smith asked, referencing the women’s basketball superpower that has won the last four NCAA women’s championships, appeared in the last nine Final Fours, and generally proven to be about as unparalleled a dominating force as there is in American sports.
“I love Geno Auriemma, one of my favorite coaches,” Barkley quickly said. “I love women’s college basketball. But I don’t want it in the NBA.”
I know, I know, facts don’t matter, but here’s where the Warriors have finished in defensive efficiency — how few points they allow per 100 possessions — since the 2012-13 season, during which Barkley started lobbing his critiques of their perimeter-heavy ways: 13th, third, first, fourth and, to this point this year, eighth. So, they’re doing something more than just shooting, it seems.
Golden State’s holding opponents to the NBA’s fourth-lowest field goal percentage, is allowing the sixth-lowest shooting percentage within five feet of the basket, and features a pair of do-everything defensive monsters in Durant and Draymond Green. They’re also fifth in the league in points scored in the paint, and generate a higher percentage of their offense from 2-point range than either the Los Angeles Clippers or Cleveland Cavaliers, the two teams squaring off in the evening’s early game, which Barkley called a potential Finals matchup.
But hey, maybe we should be easy on Charles. After all, it’s not like he watches much basketball these days.
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As to the other thing — the thing where Barkley calls trying to outscore people “girly basketball,” with “girly” intended derisively — well, that is reductive, embarrassing and small.
You don’t have to watch every second of every high-level women’s basketball game there is not be a jerk. Those ladies can play hard, tough, physical, defensive-oriented basketball — the more dominant Team USA from this summer’s Olympics was proof of that — and don’t deserve the casual condescension that comes with being caught in the crossfire of one tired analyst’s vendetta against something that doesn’t conform with his vision of The Way Things Should Be. (On a related note: can’t wait for “The Race Card,” which sounds like it’s off to a rollicking start.)
This, basically, is what Charles offers these days before, during and after TNT games. It’s a bummer, but hey, at least we get “Area 21” now as a palate cleanser.
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