Charles Barkley Says Kobe Bryant Texted Him For Three Hours After He Criticized Him On Air

Melissa Rohlin

Charles Barkley is famous for his no-nonsense, blunt approach. 

He acknowledged that his comments have angered some players over the course of his very successful 20-year broadcasting career with TNT, including Kobe Bryant.  

“I’ve had 10 to 20 phone calls from agents or players, which is fine, or coaches," Barkley said in an interview with 247Sports. "I’m just doing my job. I always tell people the funny story was the great Kobe Bryant. One night, remember that game when he wouldn’t shoot in the second half? I called him out after that because he shot one time in the second half. He was trying to prove a point that he didn’t have any help. I was livid with what he tried to do and I called him out."

Barkley was likely referring to the Lakers' 121-90 loss to Phoenix in Game 7 of the first round of the 2006 playoffs, when Bryant took only three shots in the second half. After that game, Barkley called Bryant "very selfish" on TNT, adding, "I think he stopped shooting because he wanted to say, 'Those guys didn't help me.' Because normally, if they got down by 20 points, he would try to take over. He was not aggressive at all, he was not shooting the ball."

Bryant was outraged by accusations that he tried to tank that game. 

“People who say that are stupid,” Bryant told the Los Angeles Times. “That’s just stupid...It’s outlandish, the amount of irresponsibility people have, throwing out statements like that."

And Bryant made sure to give Barkley an earful. 

"I got off the air, because we get off the air around 2 or 2:30 depending on all of the stuff that we have to do, and Kobe started texting me for the next three hours," Barkley said. "We’re going back and forth and he’s calling me every M.F., every S.O.B. in the world, and I’m laughing as I get these. I’m like, ‘Yo, man, pick up the phone and call me.’ [Kobe said] 'No, mo-fo.'"

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion over his 20-season career with the Lakers, apparently didn't harbor any anger or resentment over that incident. 

In fact, Barkley said that moment became an inside joke for them.  

"We laughed about it later when we saw each other," Barkley said. "It was hilarious that he would not pick up the phone. He sent me at least 20 to 25 texts, it was awesome.”