NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley spoke about Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, criticizing him for trying to “cheat” his way to a title.
Barkley said during an appearance on ESPN’s Mike & Mike that he understands the decision-making behind going to a top contender for a player late in his career, but not for someone as young as Durant,
"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. ....
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 then placed part of the blame for Durant ending up with the Warriors on the idea that a player needs to win a title to be considered an all-time great.
“We’ve developed this thing where you keep telling these guys ‘hey man, if you don’t win a championship, you a bum.’
I don’t feel like a bum. I’m pretty sure Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone and John Stockton … we think we’re pretty damn good. We could have played with some of those other guys and kinda cheated our way to a championship, but I think we’re gonna be alright.”
Despite being named an All-Star 11 times during his career and winning the NBA MVP in 1993, Barkley was never able to win a title. He had the best shot to win a championship in 1993, when his Suns lost in the Finals to the Bulls in six games.
*Durant was the scoring champion from 2010 to 2012 and once more in 2014.