Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is "angry" that the NBA moved up the start of the season to decrease the number of back-to-back games and eliminate any teams playing four games in five nights.
Speaking at Southern Methodist University on Wednesday, Barkley sarcastically said he wanted to "commend the NBA" for cutting the number of back-to-back games its teams must play. The 2017-18 schedule reduces the back-to-back games to an average of 14.4 per team, down from 16.3 per team last season. No team has more than 16 back-to-backs this season.
"You know, these poor babies can't play back-to-back games. They're making 20, 30, 40 million dollars a year. But we want to make it convenient for them. ... We can't stress 'em out. So we're just going to make it more comfortable for them. The private jets and four-star hotels is not enough," he said, continuing his sarcastic tone.
His tone then became serious as he expressed his disappointment with the league.
"I am so angry -- angry -- at the NBA for [not] telling these guys, 'Wait a minute, we're paying you guys 30, 40 million dollars and you can't play basketball two days in a row?' I think it's a travesty that the NBA didn't just tell these guys to play basketball two days in a row," he said. "Moving the season up, it's just a joke to me."
Barkley pointed out that when he was playing, players "flew commercial and we were able to play back-to-back."
"I've sat with older guys who took trains and played three days in a row," he said. "I think it's a joke and travesty that these guys won't pay back-to-back games with all the private jets and stuff that they get. The NBA caved in, instead of making them play back-to-back games. ... I think it's a joke."
"I think it's a travesty that the NBA didn't just tell these guys to play basketball two days in a row. Moving the season up, it's just a joke to me." Charles Barkley
He said the notion that today's players "want to rest is crazy to me" and said players are being disrespectful to fans when they decide to sit out a game, especially when that game is the only time a team will visit a particular city.
"I never came close to making 20, 30, 40 million dollars a year. No. 1, God bless them, but I would feel an obligation if I was making that type of money," he said. "I would [be] like, 'This dude is paying me $40 million. I'm gonna play two games in a row.' I played two games in a row and flew commercial. I played four games in five days and flew commercial.
"... And it's sad, to be honest with you. It's just sad because you're just disrespecting the fans. You know they're only going to get to see you one time a year in some of these situations, and you would think a guy was like, 'You know what, they're only going to see me one time a year, I'm going to play in that city.' The notion that the commissioner has to come in and talk about it but also extend the season is just ridiculous. Flat-out ridiculous."