Charles Barkley is no stranger to assessing the NBA in both historic and modern-day terms. Although his commentary isn’t always well received, it’s generally both honest and blunt.
This week, Barkley appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and addressed an important question.
Who are the two most important players in NBA history?
“Magic Johnson and Larry Bird are the two most important people in NBA history,” he said.
“If it weren’t for those guys, the NBA wouldn’t be what it is today. Obviously, Michael Jordan took it to another level, but I’m old enough to remember, before Magic and Larry got into the NBA, the league was too black, too many drugs it wasn’t making any money.
“So when these guys talk about who made the league, it was Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and I wanted to do something special for Magic because what he and Larry did we can’t put to words. You can’t say thank you enough.”
The real star of All-Star weekend. https://t.co/jAMuWDI2Vl
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 9, 2021
Interestingly enough, Barkley’s NBA on TNT co-host Shaquille O’Neal recently aimed to answer a similar question. His response was a bit different, though.
“A lot of times when I try to compare the new era and the old era people say I’m hating,” he said. “First of all, I’m too great to hate. Second of all, I’ve never seen anything like Steph [Curry] and that’s why he’s my favorite player.”
Obviously this is all subjective and different legends will have different answers, but it’s interesting that Barkley chose to pick two guys who often get a little forgotten instead of going with obvious names like Jordan and LeBron James.