Before Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder, a game which would ultimately result in the biggest loss OKC’s had since being swept from Seattle, Legendary NBA power forward and TNT analyst Charles Barkley called in to ESPN‘s SVP & Russillo to talk hoops. He touched on the 2014 draft class, calling it “one of the deepest drafts in a long time,” who he’d take No. 1 overall — he says he’d seriously look at Embiid first, but probably go with Parker — and what he thought about players leaving teams in order to maximize their own success. The conversation quickly shifted to LeBron James.
Barkley, who left Philadelphia for Phoenix similarly to the way LeBron left Cleveland (although there was no hourlong ABC special), said that, while he never wanted to leave Philly, the “two years of a nightmare” hearing about how he was being traded amid a “stupid organization” finally led to him send his agent to their front office to deliver a message that was 100 percent Barklesian: “I don’t want to be a jackass, but I’m not coming back here.” The differences, of course, are that Barkley, by his own admission, didn’t want to make it a public spectacle (James, obviously, had no such misgivings) and the fact that no one was seriously thinking Cleveland would trade LeBron.
The Round Mound of Rebound then jumped on the Miami Heat, saying that “it’s going to be difficult for them to win a championship this year, and they’re only going to get older,” that Miami was going to have a very interesting offseason, and the bombshell — that he’d always thought LeBron was going to go back to Cleveland. Prompted by the hosts, Barkley laid out his ideas on what the return of King James would entail.