Charles Barkley sparked controversy this week when he called out LeBron James’ cohorts for perceived shadiness in how they do business.
Ben Simmons’ ongoing power struggle with the Philadelphia 76ers is the hottest story in the NBA right now. Planted chiefly in the middle of the drama is Simmons’ representation Klutch Sports, and the public face of the agency, Rich Paul.
Paul, of course, is one LeBron James’ best friends. And because of that bond and the power that James wields, many believe that Paul has been able to become one of the league’s most powerful figures by association.
In the eyes of critics, like Barkley, Paul utilizes his power to bully franchises into making move that aren’t the best for them. One example of this stands above all others.
During a recent interview on The Mike Missanelli Show, Barkley essentially urged the Sixers not to back down to Paul, Klutch or Simmons when it comes to a potential trade.
“You know how that group works,” he said. “They try to trade their players to where they want to. Anthony Davis, they had better deals from Boston, and maybe even New York. They’re like ‘No, He’s gonna play with LeBron or he’s not gonna play.’ They just bullied the league. A team got to stand up and say, ‘I paid your guy. You can’t bully me to trade him & me take some trash back.’ I’m hoping somebody in the Sixers organization got some stones.”
Moreover, Barkley doesn’t believe Simmons’ frustration with the Sixers is fair. He says that the organization was right to expect more of him given the salary he commands.
“So let me get this straight,” he continued. “We liked you enough to give you $200 million. The only thing we ask is you is be a good basketball player. We’re just saying ‘shoot the ball’ and he’s mad and wants to leave town? This is total B.S.”
Paul is one of the NBA’s most polarizing personalities. He is currently embroiled in a bitter legal battle with Nerlens Noel who claims that he is responsible for roughly $58 million in lost earnings. Between that and this Simmons situation, he has unquestionably seen better days.
Pray for LaMelo. https://t.co/19CUdeNwCM
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 1, 2021
That said, he doesn’t seem to be too bothered. Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine recently inked a deal with Klutch, and Paul personally is dating arguably the greatest singer alive.
In a way, the ongoing struggle over Simmons is battle for the soul of the league. Franchises are pulling in one direction, new hotshot agents like Paul are pulling in the other. Who will ultimately prevail? Time will tell.