Often Miami Heat Critic Charles Barkley Once Picked Them As A Darkhorse In The East

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

TNT analyst Charles Barkley has often been critical of the Miami Heat, especially during the LeBron James years.

Barkley found every chance he could to take shots at the Heat, mostly because they formed a super team with James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade from 2010-14. Barkley has since eased his disdain for the Heat, even going out of his way to praise coach Erik Spoelstra and their developmental program.

But Barkley wasn't always throwing shade at the Heat. A clip of his first TNT broadcast in 2000 recently resurfaced on the Internet. In it, he picked the Heat as a contender in the Eastern Conference.

"They can still win the East because there is no dominant team," Barkley said. "If I had to go on a limb, I'd pick Miami to be honest."

The pick was a surprise considering the Heat entered that season with so much uncertainty. All-Star center Alonzo Mourning only played 13 games after being diagnosed with a kidney disease that summer.

Still, Barkley felt the Heat could compete because of coach Pat Riley. The roster consisted of Eddie Jones, Anthony Mason, Dan Majerle, Tim Hardaway and Brian Grant, all proven veterans.

"I think Miami is just as good as any team you can name in the East," Barkley said. "They got a great coach. They're going to be the best prepared. They're going to be the best conditioned. They got a chance. They'll be in the top two spots."

Barkley wasn't too far off. The Heat won 50 games, finishing as the No. 3 seed in the East. They were then upset by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the playoffs


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Shandel Richardson

SHANDEL RICHARDSON

Shandel has covered the NBA since 2010, with previous stops at The Athletic and South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  He has covered six NBA Finals, one Super Bowl, the NCAA basketball tournament. He has also been a beat writer for the Miami Hurricanes and contributed on every major beat in South Florida since 2003, including the Miami Dolphins and Miami Marlins. He can also be read in the Sportsbook Review for gambling coverage from around the NBA. A native of Bloomington, Illinois, Shandel attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He's also worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star.  TWITTER: @ShandelRich EMAIL: shandelrich@gmail.com You can subscribe to our YouTube channel here Follow all of our Miami Heat coverage on Facebook here