Charles Barkley: Kevin Durant Is Trying to Cheat His Way to a Championship

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty)

"I'm not going to hate on Kevin Durant," Charles Barkley said on a recent radio appearance.

… just before spending two straight minutes hating on Durant and his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors in free agency.

"Kevin Durant is trying to cheat his way into a championship," he said of the move.

"I’m disappointed like I was disappointed when LeBron went to Miami. Kevin is a terrific player and he’s a good kid, but I’m just disappointed at the fact that he weakened another team and he’s going to kind of gravy train on a terrific Warriors team," Durant told Mike & Mike on Wednesday. "I’m just disappointed from a competitive standpoint, because it would mean more to win one—just like it meant more to LeBron to win one in Cleveland—it would mean more to Kevin to win one in Oklahoma than it would be in Golden State."

That's when the always audacious analyst for NBA on TNT had the audacity to claim he wasn't going to trash the man that went nine seasons without a title in Oklahoma City: "Listen, I’m not going to hate on Kevin Durant. Just disappointed, but I was disappointed when LeBron … like, I was really excited when LeBron went back to Cleveland, because I knew it would mean more to that city. If Golden State wins again, it’ll be like, 'Well, we expected to win. We just won a championship two years ago. We just won 73 games.'"

Barkley, who went 16 NBA seasons without a championship, went on to compare Durant to greats of old Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan, wondering what would have happened if they'd jumped ship to join rivals, before complaining that Durant is trying to "ease" his way to a championship.

Think about this, guys: Isiah Thomas, who I really admire and respect, can you imagine him leaving Detroit and going to play with the Celtics because he couldn’t beat them? No, I could never imagine. But when he beat them and won the championship, it meant more. Can you imagine the great Michael Jordan saying, 'You know what? I can’t beat the Pistons. I’m going to go play the Pistons.' No, he got more joy beating the Pistons and winning it, because when you’re the bus driver…Isiah Thomas has a great saying, and I totally agree. It’s a lot different. All these guys who are bus riders, I don’t care what they say or what they think. But I really care about the bus drivers, because on every team, there’s a bus driver. Most of those guys just bus riders.

I think it’s a scapegoat move. You can use any word you want to. I think it’s a scapegoat move to try to ease your way into a championship. And let’s be realistic: Golden State is probably going to win a couple championships in the next three or four years, just like when they put that Miami team together, they were going to win a couple championships. At some point, it’s going to work.

One thing Barkley is definitely right about: This decision certainly has crippled the Thunder, maybe more than the star could have known. Since his decision to depart, one league executive indicated that Russell Westbrook is "a hundred percent" leaving OKC as well.