Charles Barkley says LeBron is ‘arguably the greatest story in sports history’

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Though usually critical of LeBron James, Charles Barkley paid the NBA star a huge compliment on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

Over the years, Charles Barkley has been quite critical of LeBron James when it comes to certain aspects of his game, so much so that The King has lashed back at the outspoken basketball commentator.

But on Wednesday, Barkley paid James perhaps the highest compliment any athlete could ever receive. Appearing on ESPN’s “The Russillo Show,” Barkley was asked by host Ryen Russillo if he would like to play on the same team with James, someone who Barkley called a “drama queen” days ago.

Here’s how Barkley responded to Russillo: “I think LeBron James is arguably the greatest story in sports history. What I mean by that, Ryen, for an 18-year-old kid … and let’s get one thing straight. I’ve been in the NBA since 1984. Kobe Bryant was amazing, but he was not ready for the NBA. People forget that. Kevin Garnett [was] amazing, but he was not ready when he got to the NBA. LeBron is the only guy I’ve ever seen, who the day he came into the NBA as an 18-year-old who was ready. For him, who on my list is the seventh greatest player ever, since 18 years old has never been close to being in trouble, never been close to being in trouble, and considering what he’s accomplished as a player has to be arguably the greatest story in sports history.

“For an 18-year-old kid to be, No. 1, that good from day one, and all these years later to become one of the seven greatest players on my list of all-time. I think it’s just an amazing story.”

Barkley went on to say that when he watched James’ debut in the NBA, he said, “oooh, man, this dude’s pretty good.”

He added: “He’s a wonderful guy. He’s a control guy. He controls the narrative around him. He’s an amazing man who has done some great stuff off the court.”

Despite the greatness of his story, LeBron still can’t crack the Top 6 on Barkley’s all-time list, which goes like this (in order): Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Kobe Bryant.

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