Charles Barkley Says LeBron James Would’ve Wanted No Part of Bad Boys Pistons

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

The physical play exhibited by the Detroit Pistons during their “Bad Boys” era is something that Charles Barkley says LeBron James would want no part of if the Los Angeles Lakers forward had been playing at that time.

Barkley spoke with University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari on Calipari’s “Coffee With Cal” and offered his assessment (at approximately the 25-minute mark) of how the game has evolved since that Pistons era.

“I love LeBron, but I do think the way they play the game today, he didn’t want a part of those Bad Boy Pistons,” said Barkley.

The basis for that line of thought was ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary series “The Last Dance,” which focused a segment on how Jordan had to battle in-game physical abuse inflicted by those Pistons teams in the late 1980s.

After two consecutive years of postseason losses to the Pistons, Jordan and his Chicago Bulls got over the hump in 1991 and went on to win six NBA titles in the next eight years.

James has been a part of three NBA championship teams and has been named Finals MVP following each of those titles. Yet, critics have attacked James for his willingness to lobby referees for calls and a perceived lack of mental toughness.

However, the reality of that is James continued to thrive after league-wide criticism of his free-agent move from Cleveland to Miami in 2010.

In addition, after returning to Cleveland in 2014, James led the Cavaliers to a historic comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals. That seven-game series victory marked the first time ever that an NBA team had come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals.

The fact that Barkley has never been shy about taking shots at James is something that should be taken into consideration when pondering the remarks.

Right now, James continues to remain in playing condition in the hopes that the NBA season will resume. James is hoping to enter rare territory by leading his third different team to a title, with Barkley one basketball Hall of Famer who was never able to lead his team to a single title.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.