“The Lakers Suck Because Of The Players” – Charles Barkley Tells NBA Media To Do Their Job & Stop Sucking Up To Players

Charles Barkley NBA

NBA players are empowered more than ever nowadays, so with that in mind, you’d think they’d be held to the highest standard. That’s often not the case, however. Charles Barkley has had it up to here with all that jazz.

In the aftermath of the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns being eliminated from the playoffs in five and four games respectively, Sir Charles was having none of the notions that Lakers coach Darvin Ham, or Suns coach Frank Vogel, should be on the chopping block.

“Part of our job is we watch all the games, and we watch all the talk shows. A lot of these people on television, they’re cowards. Because they want the players to like them. They don’t want to do their job, which is to tell the truth. […] Anybody who thinks the reason the Lakers suck is because of Darvin Ham, or the reason the Suns suck is because of Frank Vogel, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

“Frank Vogel is a hell of a coach. Darvin Ham is a hell of a coach trying to get his his career started, but for all you punks, idiots, and jacka***s on other networks who want to be media, and who want all the players to like y’all, do your damn job. The Lakers suck, and the Suns suck because of the players. Has nothing to do with the coaches. […] Who put them teams together, them trash a** teams put together, need to get fired.”

Darvin Ham has received criticism for his lack of imagination and adjustments when it comes to the Lakers’ rotations and lineups. Although I think this quote was totally taken out of context and wasn’t a shot by his Nuggets counterpart Michael Malone, it still painted Ham in a negative light that the general public seemed to gleefully run with.

Do I think Darvin Ham is some elite coach? No. Is he also the guy that was presumably hand-picked by LeBron James to run the show? Yes.

I’m perhaps the biggest LeBron defender on the planet. He just finished up his 21st NBA season playing at an extremely high level. Nothing to really show for it except for an in-season tournament win. The King’s future is up in the air. I wouldn’t rule out retirement, because other than playing with Bronny, or up and moving yet again to chase another ring, what else does he have to prove? It’d be kind of nice to go out playing as well as he just did, rather than gutting it out for a couple more seasons and inevitably declining.

LeBron isn’t blameless for the Lakers getting bounced by Denver in five games. I assume he signed off on D’Angelo Russell joining the team last season and into this season. Looked like a great move for the 2023-24 campaign at least, as Russell had one of his more efficient all-around years ever. Alas, D-Lo came up small on the playoff stage, shooting just 38.4% from the field.

That’d be enough for me to weight my future options, were I Bron.

The thing that’s weird about the modern NBA is that superstars suck up so much of the salary cap space that it’s damn near impossible to make a massive, marked improvement in one offseason short of trading away a zillion future first-round picks. And if LeBron did want to play somewhere else, or stay in LA, he could take a massive pay cut since he has so many other means of income off the court. However, that’d be a lose-lose situation. Sacrificing a huge chunk of change for the best chance to win would actually hurt LeBron’s legacy in the eyes of many, which is hilarious to me. So that ain’t happenin’.

With the salaries of LeBron and Anthony Davis, the Lakers front office could only do so much. The Nuggets simply had more horses than them. What was Darvin Ham supposed to do? The Lakers were leading a lot of that series. LeBron and AD balled out. It just wasn’t enough. I mean, Denver did win the championship last year and will probably do so again here soon.

Anyway, as for the Suns, I can’t really pin the blame on Vogel for that one, either. Funny that Vogel was the man who coached the LeBron/AD Lakers to an NBA title in the bubble, only to be booted two seasons later. That experience made Phoenix believe he could juggle multiple superstar egos in the desert. Between Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, it sure seemed like the Suns had what it took to go the distance on paper. Grayson Allen’s injury halfway through the series against Minnesota didn’t help. Plus, the Timberwolves’ size, the continuing rise of Anthony Edwards, and their superior commitment and personnel on the defensive end made them a nightmare matchup for Phoenix.

Styles make fights, right? The Suns were just no match for Minnesota in that regard. And according to longtime NBA reporter Rachel Nichols, it was Suns owner Mat Ishbia who forced the organization’s hand in acquiring Durant and Beal.

Vogel can clearly coach. He played the cards he was dealt to the best of his ability. What are you supposed to do as a coach when Edwards can blow past anyone you put in front of him, and yet still has the legs to put in high effort on defense? Then the Wolves had Jaden McDaniels, one of the best wing defenders in the sport, to throw at KD, Beal and/or Booker at any given time. Soon-to-be four-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns gave Minnesota a prohibitive advantage on the glass, too (58.2 REB%).

Sometimes in the NBA, you’re outmatched personnel-wise. The greatest coach in the world can’t overcome it. Or your best players are on the back nine of their careers, facing a fresher-legged adversary in the opposite situation.

I’m sure when LeBron met with the Lakers front office, he had to know it’d take near-perfect basketball from him and AD (his words from the Nuggets series) to have any realistic chance at a championship. When KD, Beal and Booker kicked around the idea of joining forces, I’m sure they had championship ambitions. Both the Lakers and Suns just ran into buzz saws — teams who were competing for the No. 1 seed in the West all year long. I think Barkley has a real point here. The players simply didn’t get it done. No amount of coaching could’ve changed the outcome in either series.

…Will at least one of Ham and Vogel get fired? I’m almost certain Ham will be.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock