Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley not sold on Warriors returning to NBA title contention

Charles Barkley not sold on Warriors returning to NBA title contention

After years at the top of the NBA, the Warriors spent last season getting kicked in the stomach repeatedly. With Steph Curry and Klay Thompson injured, opposing teams lined up to dunk the former NBA bully's head in the proverbial toilet.

The Warriors' dynasty -- as it was constructed with Kevin Durant -- ended when injuries and exhaustion dealt blow after blow to Golden State in the 2019 NBA Finals. Durant left for the Brooklyn Nets, Andre Iguodala now is on the Miami Heat and the Warriors were left to reconstruct their dynasty around Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green, all of whom will be rested and healthy when they take the court again in December.

Many expect the Warriors to shoot back to the top of the NBA hierarchy. Others poured dirt on their graves months ago. NBA legend Charles Barkley knows a healthy Warriors team will be a lot better, but he's not convinced title-contention is in the cards.

"The Warriors, it depends on what they do going forward," Barkley said Wednesday on a conference call for the American Century Championship. "Obviously, they are going to have a lottery pick. They are going to have a good team. Any time you got Klay and Steph you're going to have a good team. I mean they are the two greatest shooters who ever lived. They are not going to be the same team they used to be because other teams have gotten a lot better. I mean, listen, the Lakers and the Clippers are not going anywhere, the Nuggets got a good solid team. The Lakers and the Clippers are the two teams to beat, not just this year but going forward.

"As far as the Warriors, man they are going to be competitive because of Klay and Steph. Draymond is a good little player. But the rest of the stuff is out. The rest of the jewelry is out on the rest of that team."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

After going an NBA-worst 15-50 this season, the Warriors will have a top-five pick in October's 2020 NBA Draft. They also will have a $17.2 million trade exception with which to add a veteran piece to a team that already has a nucleus of Curry, Thompson, Green and Andrew Wiggins.

A wobbly dynasty will have had close to 18 months to rest, recuperate and recalibrate. Thompson will not have played a game in 18 months by the time he sees the floor again. Curry will have played just five games in that span.

Five consecutive runs to the NBA Finals will wear on any team. The Warriors felt the burden of their dynastic greatness last June, as Curry and Green watched their run end with Thompson and Durant injured and unable to help them complete a three-peat.

[RELATED: Draymond, Warriors won't kind motivation in winning without KD]

The Western Conference has gotten a lot better since then. Of that, there is no doubt. But the emergence of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers as legitimate title contenders doesn't mean the Warriors' road back to the title has been closed. The conference simply is more difficult than when they last conquered it. The best champions create their own path to greatness. That's the quest that lies ahead for the Warriors.

"The jewelry," as Barkley put it, is gone. But you can always go shopping, and general manager Bob Myers has a number of ways in which he can improve a team that will enter the season with a legitimate shot at the title.

The NBA's bully might not look the same, but it will rise again in December. Rested and rejuvenated with a new task at hand. Proving their demise was greatly exaggerated.

Tom Brady silences Charles Barkley with insane birdie in 'The Match'

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Tom Brady silences Charles Barkley with insane birdie in 'The Match'

Tom Brady's start in "The Match" with former NFL star Peyton Manning and PGA Tour legends Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods wasn't great, leading to an endless parade of criticism on social media.

The six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback found a way to silence the haters with this remarkable shot for birdie on the seventh hole at Medalist Golf Club.

[RELATED: Warriors' Steph Curry wants in on next iteration of 'The Match' event]

Charles Barkley is part of TNT's telecast, and was in Brady's ear all the way up until he hit the shot.

Unfortunately for Brady, his pants didn't survive the hole.

Warriors star Steph Curry and former Warrior Andre Iguodala both are avid golf fans, and were just like the rest of us after seeing Brady's shot.

The San Mateo native got his mojo back, but he and his partner Mickelson have some catching up to do with Manning and Woods in control.

Karl Malone admits Kings' Chris Webber had 'more talent' than he did

Karl Malone admits Kings' Chris Webber had 'more talent' than he did

Between ESPN’s "The Last Dance" and the need for content during the coronavirus pandemic, NBA legends are coming out of the woodwork.

Media outlets are chasing some of the biggest stars from the 1990s to chat about Michael Jordan, the Bulls dynasty and the Dream Team. Those conversations are opening up even more areas of conversation.

On a recent episode of Barstool's Pardon My Take, legendary NBA power forward Karl Malone stopped in for a video podcast. To call the set up strange would be an understatement.

Malone, sitting shirtless with some sort of dead animal fashioned into a hat in a room filled with big game hunting exploits, gave his opinion on a myriad of subjects. The hosts of the show also chose to remove their shirts, for at least part of the interview.

Like he did during his playing days, Malone threw some elbows in a bizarre Old Spice commercial meets Joe Exotic interview.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Of his many claims, many of which were spot on, Malone listed three fellow power forwards who had more God-given ability than he did, but didn’t quite reach the same level of play.

“I’m going to tell you three guys that had more talent than Karl Malone -- Chris Webber, Derrick Coleman and Charles Barkley,” Malone said. “More talent. More talent. But, they didn’t outwork me.”

Malone began lifting weights during his time at Louisiana Tech. He was an NBA strongman and the use of weight training helped him stay healthy and on the court during his 19-season Hall of Fame career.

“I would never use the term, ‘He was better than me,’” Malone explained. “More talented is different.”

Barkley is already in the Hall of Fame alongside Malone. Coleman was a really good player for about half of his 15 year career, but he never lived up to the billing that came with being the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft.

Webber’s career was filled with twists and turns, but like Malone admitted, his talent was undeniable. Webber’s run with the Kings in the late 1990s and early 2000s elevated him to superstar status, although it was short lived due to a catastrophic knee injury during the 2003 NBA playoffs.

Of the players mentioned, Coleman has no chance of making the Hall of Fame due to some personality quirks and the way his game fell off so dramatically at the midway point.

Webber has been passed over during the last few years, but there is no question that he has Hall of Fame credentials.

On the latest edition of the Purple Talk podcast, two of Webber’s former teammates in Bobby Jackson and Doug Christie spoke of him as a teammate. Both believe the five-time All-Star is more than deserving of enshrinement into the Hall.

“He set the tone of being unselfish and I think that speaks to who he was even more,” Christie said. “Undoubtedly, in opinion, he’s a Hall of Famer, no doubt.”

With an unselfishness on the court, the Kings were the greatest show on court. They moved the ball with a freedom and creativity that has rarely been matched, and Webber’s skill set fit perfectly into the system.

“For me, I think Chris was way more talented than [Malone],” Jackson said. “I think Karl had a more polished Hall of Fame career.”

“Chris, I think, is one of the most talented big men I’ve ever seen with his ball handling, his shooting, his passing and he was also a great teammate,” Jackson added.

According to Jackson, the team knew that Webber was their leader. During his time in Sacramento, the Kings were a perennial playoff team, making it as far as the 2002 Western Conference Finals.

“I think he is a Hall of Famer, if you look at his numbers, if you look at his career,” Jackson said. “He didn’t win an NBA championship here in Sacramento, but he allowed us the glory and he gave us a gust of wind that we needed to be relevant.”

There was a stretch where the Kings were considered the best team in basketball, but that all came to an abrupt end when Webber took a bad step on May 8, 2003 and needed microfracture surgery on his left knee.

Webber would go on to play parts of five seasons in the league after the injury, but he was never the same player and was forced to retire during the 2007-08 season at the age of 35.

“He couldn’t practice because his knee was inflamed, but man, he would come out and get you 20 and 10 like it was nothing,” Jackson said. “He wasn’t really moving, he didn’t have the explosiveness, but just imagine if he was healthy and he had the lift ... the damage he would have done.”

[RELATED: Mullin recalls Webber dominating Dream Team]

Webber’s career stats clearly state his case for enshrinement. When he retired, he was one of five players in NBA history to average more than 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists per game. The other four players are Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Larry Bird and Billy Cunningham.

It should be noted that during the Kings’ 35 seasons in Sacramento, they have made the postseason 10 times. Seven of those times, Webber started the season on the roster.