Charles Barkley joined ESPN 1050 Tuesday afternoon to talk about the NBA lockout.
Here are the major takeaways of his interview on “The Mike Lupica Show.”
• The only way the lockout will end is if the players agree to a 50-50 split on Basketball Related Income or “BRI.” Barkley says the owners have put their foot down, so the players are going to have to agree on that and potentially other concessions like a hard salary cap and revenue sharing. Otherwise, there won’t be a 2011-12 season.
• Big market teams and their ability to attract top-tier free agents is killing the league. Barkley says that teams like the Heat may good for ratings, but they’re bad for the NBA as a whole.
“It’s not fair,” Barkley said. “It’s not fair to the integrity of the game. We need great players in the small market cities.”
• Barkley says the league wouldn’t find itself in this awful position if LeBron hadn’t bolted Cleveland and Chris Bosh hadn’t bolted Toronto to join D-Wade down in Miami.
“That’s the big elephant in the room,” Barkley said. “They’re gonna say, ‘No. No. No. We can’t have that.’ And from a business standpoint, these [owners] are running a big time business. People can say what they want to, but of course it’s about cash, and we need the small market to be viable. These guys have the right to play together, but it’s not a good business plan for the NBA. They’ve got to find a way to keep these stars in these small markets.”
• Barkley is afraid that the NBA is turning into baseball. While teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies can afford top-tier free agents, smaller markets like Tampa Bay and Milwaukee aren’t as fortunate. Barkley brought up the fact that Prince Fielder is likely to leave the Brewers to seek more money on the open market. He also mentioned Carl Crawford leaving the Rays for Boston.
“It’s not fair to the fans in Milwaukee [who haven’t been to the World Series since 1982],” Barkley said. “Basketball is becoming baseball, and we can’t have that.”
Obviously, as we’ve found out this season, money doesn’t buy championships. But it does -- with some exceptions -- buy playoff appearances.