Charles Barkley will not let LeBron James crack his list of the top five NBA players of all time.
James just won his third NBA championship and third NBA Finals MVP, while fulfilling his promise to bring a championship to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. He led all players in the 2016 Finals in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, becoming the first player in NBA history to lead both teams in all statistical categories in the Playoffs.
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But those recent accomplishments, along with his two titles in Miami and four MVP awards, don’t qualify LeBron for top-five status in the opinion of Barkley, an NBA Hall of Famer himself.
On the debut episode of Bill Simmons’ new HBO show Any Given Wednesday, Barkley said his top five players of all time are Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant are in his second tier. James is in the third tier, along with Larry Bird, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West.
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“I will say this about LeBron James, I’ve never seen a man coming out of high school who has handled the success, been a great player—never got in a stitch of trouble—it’s probably been the greatest career ever,” Barkley said.
Barkley said his top-five list will never change, but James could move past Duncan and Bryant.
Barkley’s list reveals his partiality to the game’s great big men. And though Robertson was an incredible player—he averaged a triple double in the 1961-62 season—it’s surprising that Barkley placed him at No. 2, since he won only one championship—with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971.
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Check out the video of Barkley on Simmons’ show below.