Charles Barkley made headlines several weeks ago when he offered a straightforward and unfiltered assessment of Klay Thompson.
“There was a time when Klay Thompson was the best two-way guard in the NBA and he’s not the same guy and that’s because of injuries,” Barkley said.
“Is he done? No, I don’t think he’s done. I think he’s slowing down and it’s catching up with him, that’s why he’s frustrated.”
Thompson did not take kindly to Barkley’s evaluation of him.
Klay was hurt by Charles Barkley’s comments about him not being the same player he was before the injuries pic.twitter.com/8Rq2CmbeRf
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 28, 2022
“It hurts when someone like Charles Barkley, with the platform he has, says you’re not the same player as prior to the injuries you had. It’s like, no duh, man,” Thompson said.
“I tore my ACL and my Achilles in consecutive years and still helped a team win a championship. I mean, that hurt hearing that. Because it’s like, man, I put in so much freaking effort to get back to this point. Like, it’s hard to even put into words what I had to do to be the player I am today.
“I played 55, 57 games in three years, like, give me some freaking time to get that back. To hear someone say, ‘Oh, he’s not the same as he was prior to the injuries.’ Like, duh. Who goes through something like that and comes back? Like, I don’t know, it just hurt my heart hearing that.”
On Tuesday night, it was Barkley’s turn to respond.
“I was disappointed that he took it personally,” Barkley said.
“I said a few years ago that he was the best two-way guard in the NBA. But because of age and injuries, he’s not the same player. I didn’t say he was a bum. I’m saying he’s not the same player.”
Barkley was then asked straight up if he had anticipated that Thompson would return as the same guy after all his injuries.
“No, but I was talking about what I’ve been seeing, going back to the Finals… He said give him time,” Barkley said.
“No, when you get older, time ain’t your friend. I love Klay and that’s what bothered me. I love that kid. I love everything about him. Like I said, I used to say this guy is the best two-way player in the NBA but because of age and injuries, he’s not the same guy. I wasn’t worth a damn my last two years in the NBA.”
It’s hard to fault any of the parties involved for their positions. Barkley was right: Thompson is quite clearly not the same player he was before back-to-back injuries to his ACL and Achilles.
And it’s fine that Thompson is hurt emotionally about that. He is allowed to feel how he feels. He spent nearly 1,000 days between Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals and his eventual return trying to get back to his old form. That’s a lot of time and a lot of work.
Barkley is paid to give his honest opinions regarding what he sees. He did that.
Thompson is free to outwardly express his feelings. He did that, too.
Now everyone can move on.
It’s a bad scene.
It would behoove Thompson and all his teammates to drown out the noise and really focus on what’s important right now. Barkley’s takes don’t fall into that camp.
At least Russell Wilson’s wife still knows how to impress.https://t.co/Pmq6CJhNle
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 2, 2022
The defending champs are struggling.
Will they eventually be able to get back on track?
Time will tell.
Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.