PHOENIX SUNS

Charles Barkley dishes on Kevin Durant feud, CNN show plans

Mar 28, 2023, 9:43 AM

Charles Barkley has taken a step away from his NBA-watching duties of late.

His head has been in the sands of the NCAA Tournament with his Turner Sports colleagues, and he’ll work this weekend before pivoting back into his regular “NBA on TNT” duties.

But Barkley’s segment on “60 Minutes” this week caused a stir, for reasons related to basketball and otherwise.

The former Phoenix Suns forward joined Bickley & Marotta on Arizona Sports to chat about his potential plans to co-host a CNN show with Gayle King, an ongoing feud with new Suns star Kevin Durant and more.

Barkley stays on the Durant sensitivity train

The best way to summarize the relationship between Charles Barkley and Kevin Durant is to say neither will drop it.

Barkley, who has criticized Durant for latching on with teams already boasting star players, is still calling Durant “sensitive” without context to his basketball skills.

“He is sensitive,” Barkley told Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday. “It’s weird. I said it for three or four years now, I’m not sure why he reacted to it again. I don’t care where it goes. He’s a great, great player. I think he’s a good guy, too.

“He is sensitive and I’m not worried about it. I don’t even think about it.”

Durant is still responding. And yes, much of this is because Barkley keeps getting asked about it, as he was on “60 Minutes” this week.

Durant addressed it recently on his own podcast before Barkley brought it up again.

And unsurprisingly, Durant’s problem with Barkley’s comments has something to do with why it’s even a topic spurred on by anything but his play on the court.

CNN plans with Gayle King not finalized

Reports from the Wall Street Journal and Variety suggest that Barkley and “CBS Mornings” anchor Gayle King are finalizing a deal to co-host a new CNN show.

Barkley said that nothing is imminent. CNN approached him about hosting a show to help with slumping ratings, he admitted.

He is only considering it after the idea was floated to co-host the show with King. Barkley said the pair will discuss things over the summer to see if they feel like joining forces for a show that will touch on world news and events.

“It’ll only be one day a week if I decide to do it. I said, ‘No, I don’t want to be on TV more. I want to be on TV less,'” Barkley told Bickley & Marotta.

“I’ve gotten to know her well through the years through my relationship with Oprah (Winfrey) and she’s just cool. I said, ‘I would consider doing a show with Gayle, one day a week starting in the fall.'”

The problem with the NBA MVP voting

As Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic lead the MVP race, debate over Jokic’s candidacy has raged as his defense has been questioned.

The Nuggets indeed have gained a strong grasp atop the Western Conference behind his play, but Embiid has pulled ahead of late with a strong run of games. Barkley believes the discussion about the NBA’s best player versus the player having the best regular season gets muddied.

“Let’s get one thing straight: (Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo) is the best player,” Barkley said. “Michael Jordan was the best player in the NBA probably four years before he won MVP. His team wasn’t doing good. Same thing with Kobe Bryant. Nobody thinks Steve Nash was better than Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’Neal, but those two years (2004-05, 2005-06) in Phoenix, they had the best record and he had the best regular season.

“Shaq hates that and he gets mad and I said, ‘Dude, the Suns had the best record. Steve Nash was great.'”

So how about those Suns?

Barkley has been out of the loop for weeks covering the NCAA Tournament, but the messy Western Conference will likely be there waiting for his return to his NBA show.

The uncertainty of matchups makes him apprehensive to determine how far the Suns can go with Durant reportedly expected to return to the court for his fourth game as a Phoenix player this Wednesday.

“I’m probably going to pick the Nuggets and Bucks (to make the Finals),” Barkley said. “I’m going to write it down in pencil. I’m not going to write it down in permanent ink … you got zero idea who’s going to be playing who.”

As of Tuesday morning, the fourth-seeded Suns would face the fifth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers, who could be without star Paul George until the postseason, at least.

There are seven teams within 3.5 games of Phoenix, which at 40-35 has seven games left.

“I wouldn’t pick (the Suns) to beat the Nuggets (in a 1-4 matchup) to be honest with you, but like I say, I don’t know Kevin’s situation,” Barkley said. “They gonna beat the Clippers without Paul George. You asked me about Kevin coming back, Paul’s probably not coming back until the playoffs.”

“I’m pretty sure you don’t want to come off your hospital bed and guard Kevin Durant. That’s not going to be conducive to Paul George’s health.”

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