LeBron James is already considered by many to be one of the greatest NBA players of all time. Should he win several more championships before his career ends, some would argue that LeBron is No. 1. Charles Barkley does not envision that happening.
In a recent interview with SI.com’s Richard Deitsch, Barkley said he currently ranks LeBron just outside of his top-five NBA players of all time. And he suspects James will remain there.
“I have him there. But he can’t get any higher than where he is,” Barkley explained. “I have Michael [Jordan] at No. 1. Oscar [Robertson] at No. 2. Then Wilt [Chamberlain], Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and [Bill] Russell. I have Kobe [Bryant], LeBron, Tim Duncan, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor after that. Those are my top 10. Those second five fluctuate, but who do I take off my top five?”
Barkley then raised what he believes is a bigger issue — why people don’t give Kobe Bryant and his five championship rings more respect.
“LeBron can get to No. 6 on my list, but here’s the thing that bothers me about the whole LeBron debate: I want to know why y’all killed Kobe Bryant!” Barkley added. “Y’all don’t even compare him to LeBron anymore. You are skipping him for LeBron and going right to Michael. I’m still going to take five [titles] over two. It makes me laugh with my friends — the media just kills Kobe Bryant. Like he’s dead! Five still is a lot more than two!”
I agree. Jason Kidd named his all-time starting five a few months ago and left Kobe out. Karl Malone rattled his off and put Scottie Pippen in over Michael Jordan, and he included LeBron. Still, no Kobe.
If LeBron wins three more championships before retiring, I’m sure Barkley will change his mind. But for now, his argument makes perfect sense.