Basketball Hall of Famer and NBA analyst Charles Barkley says he was "disappointed" in players like Kevin Durant and LeBron James for leaving their original teams during free agency.
Barkley discussed Durant and James in a conversation with several reporters, including SI's Richard Deitsch. The full conversation with Barkley is featured on The Crossover.
James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010, taking his talents to South Beach to join the Miami Heat. James spent four seasons in Miami, leading the team to four NBA Finals appearances and two championships. James returned to Cleveland in 2014 and led the team to their first title in franchise history this past season.
Durant was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics, who eventually moved to Oklahoma City. Durant spent his first nine seasons with team before signing a two-year deal this offseason to join the Golden State Warriors.
"Us older guys were disappointed in Kevin," Barkley said. "I’m not going crazy here but we were disappointed when LeBron did it. Guys like myself, Patrick [Ewing], Karl Malone, John Stockton, we can answer we are good even if we didn’t win a ring. But we would have never answered, let’s go play with other stars. For some reason something changed media-wise that you have to win a championship or you suck as a player."
Barkley says that some young players get caught up in peer pressure and media when it comes to free agency decisions.
"But I know this for a fact: You don’t think LeBron felt better about winning that one in Cleveland than he did those two in Miami? Winning in Miami would not be the same as winning in Cleveland," Barkley said. "There is a reason he went back.
"Durant winning a championship with Golden State will not feel the same as winning in Oklahoma City," Barkley added. "He will be happy and excited but he will not feel the same."
- Scooby Axson