Draymond Green‘s monologue on double standards when judging players vs teams behavior during trade season started a larger conversation about player empowerment. LeBron James supporting Draymond only added fuel to that fire. So it was inevitable for Charles Barkley to share his thoughts on the Bill Simmons’ podcast.
To play devil’s advocate for a moment, comparing MJ in the 80s and a star in 2021 is a bit unfair. We can’t be sure MJ wouldn’t ask for a trade in 2021 if he missed the playoffs as long as he did, while his competitors were leaving poorly run organizations and joining the good ones. Players didn’t do it in the 80s because they didn’t have the power to do so. People forget there was a narrative NBA stars were making too much money in the 90s – and there was a strong racial undertone to those comments. Apart from the first few years, MJ had great coaches, a very good GM, and Scottie Pippen. He had the pieces around him to win.
That being said, players today are truly out of their minds. Honestly, I started laughing when all the win-now moves Atlanta made this offseason were caused by the worst defender in the league complaining the team around him isn’t good enough. They’re worried about Trae Young leaving? Give me a break.
More so than his “Michael said he needed to get better” explanation, Barkley pointed out something more important. MJ won his first title when he was 27 years old, in his 7th year in the league. Everyone wants success overnight these days, and young NBA players are no different.
Isiah Thomas talked about it when describing the Pistons’ success. He referred to every defeat against the Lakers and the Celtics as a lesson. After Bird’s legendary steal and pass to Dennis Johnson, he didn’t despair. It was just another lesson that’s gonna make the Pistons stronger for next year. What happened? They won two in a row.
It takes time to build a team, develop a system and learn how to win at a highest level. Just because LeBron can jump teams every 4 years and make it work, doesn’t mean other players can. It’s like we need to remind them – they are not LeBron James.