Well, it finally happened. After years of criticism from Charles Barkley, LeBron James sounded off on the Hall of Famer following Cleveland’s loss to Dallas on Monday. 

“I thought LeBron took the bait,” NBA Radio, Forbes and Sporting News NBA writer Mitch Lawrence said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Barkley has been on his case since LeBron left Cleveland in 2010, and they’ve been going back and forth over the last seven years about a bunch of stuff. This is just the latest installment of this fisticuffs. I thought that what Barkley said about LeBron whining about not having enough help – yeah, it was a bad look, but LeBron should just let it go. There’s a lot of problems going on. The Cavaliers are losing, LeBron looks over and sees the Warriors – they’re going to win 70 games probably again, he knows he probably can’t beat them this time around in June, so he lashed out at Barkley. I thought it was crazy on LeBron’s part, but that’s what Barkley’s paid to do: He’s paid to have a strong opinion, and LeBron took the bait.”

James wants Cavs general manager David Griffin to add more pieces before the postseason, but Barkley doesn’t have much sympathy. After all, James has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and is still the best player in the world. Barkley questioned James’ desire to compete and called him “whiny.”

James went on the offensive Monday night, taking shots at Barkley’s checkered past: “I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window,” James said of Barkley. “I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.”

James did his homework, but it still felt hollow – at least for Lawrence. 

“We knew all that stuff about Charles,” Lawrence said. “That’s nothing knew. Charles would probably tell you there’s more stuff he should have been investigated (for) that’s been worse. But LeBron just went off the deep end on this stuff. I know why. He’s getting to him and he sees what’s going on, but Barley is a provocateur. You know how Barkley is. He stirs it up. That’s for TNT. That’s for the ratings and everything. It’s not hard to find out what Charles has done in the past. I think LeBron just blew it in this case. He really did. He should have taken the high road and not even acknowledged that Charles was alive.”

The Cavs (32-15) lead Boston (30-18) by 2.5 games in the East. Golden State (41-7), meanwhile, is humming along. The Warriors lead the Spurs (37-11) and Rockets (36-16) by four and seven games, respectively, in the West.

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