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Charles Barkley offers provocative take on LeBron James-Michael Jordan debate

Charles Barkley inserted himself into the objectively endless debate over whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James reigns supreme as the greatest of all-time during an appearance Thursday on ESPN. The argument offered by the outspoken and opinionated NBA analyst is a compelling one and sure to spur further arguments on the polarizing topic.

Barkley appeared on a virtual panel on Thursday’s edition of “Get Up!” alongside Stephen A. Smith and Mike Greenberg. The matter of James’ heroic performance and clutch three-pointer during Wednesday’s play-in tournament victory over the Golden State Warriors sparked the complex and ongoing MJ-LeBron debate.

Barkley, who incidentally remains estranged from Jordan, made the case that his old friend perhaps should be usurped by James as the GOAT should the superstar lead the Los Angeles Lakers to another title and the fifth championship of his career.

“If LeBron James is able to beat the Phoenix Suns, whoever they face in the second round, beat the Utah Jazz or Clippers, get to the NBA Finals and beat the Brooklyn Nets,” Barkley said. “First of all, I have Milwaukee winning the East. But if he’s able to win the championship this year, I think we have to have a serious conversation. We really do.”

Smith disagreed with Barkley’s comments, perhaps to no surprise. However, the NBA on TNT analyst made the case that should James topple a superteam like the Brooklyn Nets, the prohibitive favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, his case as the greatest basketball player of all time might be difficult to contest.

“If LeBron is able to beat KD, James Harden and Kyrie, that would be impressive,” Barkley said.

This isn’t the first instance of Barkley weighing in on the James-Jordan debate over the years, and it’s unlikely to be the last time he’s compelled to do so. The same can be said of countless NBA luminaries who have shared their opinion on the matter as well.

James once suggested he’s chasing the “ghost” of MJ, and the Lakers star was unsurprisingly flattered when was congratulated by His Airness after passing his idol on the NBA’s all-time scoring list during the 2018-19 season.

And for what it’s worth, Jordan himself isn’t too fond of the constant comparisons with James, arguing it’s impossible to compare players from different era.

All that being said, the debate will surely continue with no consensus ever reached between the MJ and LeBron camps.