The Miami Heat can win the NBA Championship tonight, giving LeBron James his first title and putting a final touch on his resumé, which should only continue to grow in the years to come.
Charles Barkley joined Mike Wise, Mitch Lawrence and Frank Isola on 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C. to discuss the NBA Finals, speaking specifically about how a championship will affect LeBron James and his reputation among fans. He predicted that the Heat would wrap it up in Game 5 Thursday night and broke down why Oklahoma City has lost three of the first four games.
His prediction that Miami will wrap up the series in five games:
“I thought they would win this series in six, but they’re gonna win it in five, so I’m excited to be on vacation for the next five months. I’m ready.”
On LeBron James finally getting the benefit of the doubt:
“If you can’t appreciate LeBron James — the guy’s gonna be one of the 10 greatest players to ever play the game by the time he finishes. He’s always been a great guy, a great guy. Never gotten in trouble. Always been a great player, but the Cleveland thing just rubbed some people the wrong way. A lot of people never gonna get over that, but you gotta give him his due as a basketball player. He is fun to watch. I think he finally realized this is his team. Last year, I thought he deferred too much. Early in the season I thought he deferred too much. And he’s just got a different mind set now as far as being aggressive and realized he has to be the dominant player every night to cover up this team’s flaws. They have a lot of flaws — they have a very small team, they really don’t have a quote-unquote traditional point guard, so he has to score 30 a night, he has to get almost 10 rebounds a night, and he has to get eight, nine assists a night. And when he started realizing that, his whole theme changed about him. And he’s beautiful; I love watching him play.”
On why the Thunder are on the verge of losing the series:
“Well, I think that team has some flaws. They a jump-shooting team. The reason I picked Miami to win the series: I don’t think you can out-perimeter Miami. You’re not gonna beat them just shooting jump shots. They lost in the Finals last year because Dirk [Nowitzki] and Tyson Chandler just beat ‘em up down low. And [Serge] Ibaka and [Kendrick] Perkins aren’t scorers, so they can’t take advantage of a small Miami team, and that’s why I never thought OKC had a chance. You’re not gonna beat this team just shooting jumpers. You have to beat ‘em up down low because they don’t have any big guys, really. Chris Bosh is a heck of a player, but he’s really a undersized power forward and because OKC don’t have big guys who can score, they can’t take advantage of that small lineup.”
On if winning his first title will help LeBron gain favor with fans:
“If you’re successful, a lot of people aren’t going to like you. That’s just the way it is. I always used to use this analogy: Everybody hates the homecoming queen because she’s pretty. All the ugly girls hate the homecoming queen. And all the dumb kids hate the smart kids. That’s just the way it is. LeBron James, first of all he has to take some responsibility [for] the way he did the stuff last year leaving Cleveland, the decision, coming on stage talking about not five, not six, seven championships. So he deserves some blame, but like I say, he’s a great kid, he’s a great, great player. … If you look at his résumé right now, the only thing he’s missing is a championship, and he’s gonna get that done [Thursday]. And no telling how many championships they’re going to win. … I wish he had stayed in Cleveland, because those fans in Cleveland, man, they’re fantastic. They don’t even have real fans here in Miami, they’re front-runners. “