Charles Barkley is known as someone who is never shy to express how he feels about certain things, and for him, there was never a topic he was afraid to share his opinion. After his HOF career, Barkley found himself in a role of an NBA analyst and a commentator. As someone who has been involved in the NBA for almost 40 years, Barkley saw several changes the league has gone through in the past few decades.
One of the things that many fans complain about today’s NBA is how the product itself is no longer watchable as it used to be because of rule changes that reduced its quality. The lack of physicality is one of the things fans point out as a reason that undermines the quality since a lot of them grew up watching the NBA in the 80s or 90s when the league was much tougher than it is now.
Barkley had to endure a lot of contact in his days, and his style of play was extremely physical, often banging with the biggest guys on the opposing team in the post. He noticed that the league has changed where players are way more protected now than ever before. Shooting is incentivized, and many teams no longer see the necessity to get some points within the free-throw line.
There’s barely any contact in today’s game, but you used to be able to crossbow a guy to keep him out of the paint.Charles Barkley, via The Onion
Players nowadays have the best possible conditions to dedicate to their craft and be true professional athletes. Private planes, personal trainers, the best workout programs, nutrition, and many other things make the life of an NBA player one of the best if you are a professional athlete. However, things weren’t like that in Barkley’s time, and he believes players are too pampered, which makes them soft at times.
These players are so pampered with their private flights—I’d like to see one of them thrive after a transatlantic trip across ocean waters. Everybody’s trying to buddy up and make super teams. Back then, you’d lose half of your teammates to dysentery by All-Star break.Charles Barkley, via The Onion
Some would say Barkley is just another bitter old man, but a lot of fans would agree with his statement. Yes, the players have the most power and financial gain from being in the NBA than any generation before them, including Barkley and a large portion of his career. The problem with the whole narrative with players creating superteams lies within that power they accumulated in the recent decade.
More than ever before, players are highly skilled and versatile; however, the rules that allow less contact have nothing to do with the players. If the league changed the rules, they would adapt to them quickly. Hopefully, the NBA would listen more to its fans and someone like Barkley and allow more physicality and incentivize players playing in the post more because that is what many people want.