Miami heat forward Lebron James has often been compared to NBA great Michael Jordan, winner of six NBA titles. However, the career path of Lebron James is looking more and more like one of his main critics - Charles Barkley.
This is especially true after a crushing defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in the 6 games, losing a great shot at an NBA title.
Here is a comparison of the three players Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Lebron James.
Jordan, was drafted with the third pick by the Chicago Bulls and was quickly beloved by fans around the NBA for his high flying dunks and exciting play. The Bulls made it to the playoffs multiple times, but failed to do anything significant despite Jordan's stellar play, primarily due to poor supporting cast for Jordan.
Barkley was selected fifth by the Philadelphia 76ers, two slots after Jordon, joining a stacked 76ers team with older players and eventually became their franchise player. However, Barkley could never breakthrough in the playoffs in eight seasons with Philadelphia and demanded a trade, claiming a poor supporting cast.
James was highly touted coming out of high school and selected first by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He carried his Cavaliers teams to playoff, and had some playoff moments, but never could break through to win the NBA title. It was often cited that James had a poor supporting cast in Cleveland.
Jordan stuck with the Bulls and the Bulls rewarded him by trading for a young player named Scottie Pippen who turned into an all-star. Jordan's Bulls won three championships in a row, before Jordan had a brief retirement to baseball. He came back and won another three championships
Barkley got his trade demand and was sent to the Phoenix Suns who tried to get a supporting cast for Barkley with players like Kevin Johnson and Danny Ainge. Though Barkley got an MVP, he consistently lost in the playoffs to Jordan's Bulls unable to perform in the clutch. Barkley's flamboyant personality got him into multiple incidents including a spitting at a fan, and claiming he wasn't a role model in the media.
James, after seven seasons with the Cavaliers, gave up and decided to sign with the Miami Heat as a free agent in an infamous broadcast on ESPN known as The Decision. James joined a trio of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but failed to perform in the clutch against the Dallas Mavericks. Among James' media issues include mocking NBA finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki for playing while sick and lashing out at critics following the series loss telling them to go back to their own lives.
Twilight of their Careers
Jordan became a basketball icon successful on the court and off the court with endorsements and business. Retiring after his last NBA title, Jordan became part-owner of the Washington Wizards and had a short, unsuccessful stint with them as a player that served more as a good-bye party for a beloved player.
Barkley was traded again to the Houston Rockets to get one last chance at an NBA title. Though he was known as a great player, he could never get that title, and failed to do so again with the Rockets. He retired as one of the best players in the NBA that never won a title. He took his flamboyant personality to the broadcast booth as a commentator for TNT.
As Lebron James is entering his ninth NBA season, his career path is still unknown. However, with his poor personality in the media and inability to perform in the playoffs, the trajectory of James' career is looking more and more like Barkley.