NBA great Charles Barkley is the latest former player to put together his list of the greatest players the league has ever seen, and made a couple of surprising snubs.
The Hall of Famer had two omissions off his top five NBA players that many fans watching basketball during the modern-era may consider two of the best players to walk the face of the Earth: LeBron James and the late Kobe Bryant.
“Michael’s [Jordan] one, Oscar Robertson’s two,” Barkley said during an appearance on Kentucky coach John Calipari’s “Coffee with Cal” show last week. “[Bill] Russell, Wilt [Chamberlain] and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], no particular order after Michael.”
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James and Bryant have combined for eight NBA titles during their legendary careers. James won back-to-back championships with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013 before he brought home a title to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. Bryant, a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, won three-consecutive titles from 2000 to 2002, and later won back-to-back crowns in 2009 and 2010.
Barkley, however, did include James and Bryant in his top 10.
“Kobe six, LeBron seven, then you’ve got Elgin Baylor, Jerry West,” Barkley said. “You know, I love LeBron and everything about him, but I still think that the way they play the game today, he didn’t want any part of those bad-boy Pistons. Let me tell you something, those guys were out there trying to hurt people. I used to always tell people when you were playing the Pistons, you had to call home and tell your family you love them just in case you never saw them again.” The Pistons took on the “Bad Boys” nickname in the 1980s over their intensely physical style of play.
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Before the coronavirus pandemic put a halt on the sports world, James had the Lakers in position to have a chance at another NBA title.
The Lakers have been the No. 1 seed in the loaded Western Conference. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out if it resumes, and if James brings another title back to Los Angeles, maybe Barkley will put him in his top five.