They are the best show on TV, and Charles Barkley has said numerous times he’s never worked a day in his life – first he was paid millions to play a game he loves, and now he’s paid to have fun talking about the game he loves. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t difficult things and days in the studio. One of the worst ones was back in 2006, and it involved a mad Kobe Bryant.
In 2006 the Lakers became the eighth NBA team to lose a series after leading 3 games to one. Shaq was out of town,, and Kobe tried to prove he can do it without the big fella. This was peak Kobe trying to do it all by himself. The Lakers finished the season with a 45 – 37 record and were facing the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs. Here are Kobe’s shot attempts and game results from that series (bold indicates most shot taken on the team).
- Game 1 – Lakers lost – 21
- Game 2 – Lakers won – 24
- Game 3 – Lakers won – 18
- Game 4 – Lakers won – 14
- Game 5 – Lakers lost – 17
- Game 6 – Lakers lost – 35
- Game 7 – Lakers lost – 16
Despite the fact the Lakers won both games in which he didn’t take the most shots, Kobe didn’t trust his teammates enough to continue playing that way and took 35 shots in Game 6. After that game, the team and the media criticized him heavily, and after taking 13 shots in the first half, Kobe decided to make a point. He took only 3 shots the entire second half of Game 7. After the game, Charles Barkley said he was extremely disappointed and called Kobe “very selfish.”
“Remember the game he wouldn’t shoot? I was the first person to call him out after that game. I said this dude is trying to prove a point. He’s just wrong. So we get off the air, and Kobe texts me for the next three hours, and we go back and forth for the next three hours. He won’t pick up a phone; he keeps sending me texts. And he’s going crazy for three hours. We laughed about it years later. But for three hours, he’s mf-fing me, you SOB. I was like ‘pick up the phone.’ I said to him I didn’t like what he did and that he was 100 percent wrong.”Charles Barkley. Golf.com
As confident and persistent as Barkley is in calling it as he sees it, that doesn’t mean situations like these are easy for him. In a new documentary, “The Inside Story,” about life on “Inside the NBA,” Sir Charles revealed criticizing other players is the hardest part of the job for Shaq, Kenny, and himself. Barkley knows how much it means to players when Hall of Famers talk about their game and never takes it lightly.
Here comes the part that made Kobe special. He didn’t leave it at that. Kobe showed up on Inside and hashed it out with Barkley on live TV. Both stood their ground but admitted they could’ve reacted better at the moment. Kobe pointed out the selfish part was what he took issue with, at it was a persistent criticism he dealt with throughout his career and it was coming from one of the game’s legends. Later in his career, Bryant gave the ultimate Kobe explanation of the number of shots he’d take in those days.
The man made a valid point. Charles and Kobe were cool after that, and I’d love to see more players who feel slighted on the show hashing it out on live TV. It’s the healtiest way to air you grievances and evolve the conversation we have about the game we love.