The 2021-22 NBA season isn’t going according to plan for the Los Angeles Lakers. That was already the case before the calendar flipped to January but, at the moment, the Lakers have dropped five of the last six games and the level of drama seems to be increasing. Along the way, Magic Johnson criticized the team’s “lack of effort,” prompting LeBron James to also apologize to Lakers fans, and buzz indicates that Frank Vogel’s seat is extremely hot.
From there, Vogel elected to sit Russell Westbrook on the bench during a loss to the Indiana Pacers, and that didn’t exactly quiet the chatter. With that as the backdrop, Charles Barkley jumped into the fray on Thursday, teeing off on the team’s front office for “putting that trash together,” and he defended Westbrook and Vogel along the way.
“The way they are trying to throw Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel under the bus is really pissing me off… I’m not gonna sit around like all these clowns on other networks who got their head up the Lakers booties. Now, they’re blaming Frank Vogel and Russell Westbrook,” Barkley said. “The people up top who put that trash together are running and hiding like cowards, saying ‘Oh it’s Frank, it’s Russ.’ You put all them old geezers out there. Listen, the best guy other than LeBron in the last month has been who? Stanley Johnson. For y’all to be bringing a guy who was on the street and he becomes your second best player, whoever running that trash out there gettin away with…it’s ridiculous man.”
Barkley isn’t exactly shy about expressing himself on TNT’s Inside The NBA on a weekly basis. Still, this rant stands out, particularly as Ernie Johnson is desperately trying to get the next segment queued up as Barkley continues to fire away — the entire desk laughing as Chuck yells about how “the Lakers still suck when we get back from this interview” is tremendous.
Of course, he’s not wrong in that the Lakers’ shaky situation is, at least in part, facilitated by flawed roster construction, as the Lakers put in most of their trade assets for Westbrook, eschewing floor spacing and the defense that keyed the team’s 2020 title run. When Barkley speaks, however, people listen, and these comments are likely to garner significant traction amid the Lakers’ ongoing mediocrity.