As Charles Barkley continues to throw rubber darts at the Warriors, disparaging their style of play at every opportunity, sometimes going out of his way to do so, the Warriors continue to shrug them off.
They believe the only significant response to Barkley or any other critic is by producing successful results.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has known Barkley for years and he basically sees his act as perfect made-for-TV moments.
“Having worked with Charles in TV, for TNT, I understand that there’s a show that has to happen,” Kerr said Friday on The Warriors Insider Podcast. “There’s an entertainment value that he brings that nobody else can bring. I think Charles is hilarious. He’s really good at what he does.”
Yet Kerr is at least slightly puzzled when Barkley constantly singles out the Warriors for being a “jump-shooting team” or playing “little girly basketball,” as he said Thursday on TNT.
“I think he goes overboard with his criticism of us,” Kerr said. “Everybody is the league is basically doing what we’re doing. Cleveland takes more 3s than we do. They beat us last year in The Finals by going small and shooting 3s and LeBron (James) playing the 4. The series came down to Kyrie (Irving) making a 3.”
It’s apparent to those paying attention that Barkley, who retired in 2000, has not made the observational transition to basketball as it is played in 2016.
The Warriors average 32.2 3-pointers per game, behind the Rockets (37.0) and defending champion Cavaliers (34.8). Only one team, the Pistons, at 19.8, averages less than 20 shots beyond the arc per game.
When Barkley retired in 2000, only the Kings, at 20.2, averaged more than 20 3-pointers per game. The Rockets were second, at 19.8, and Barkley was a member of that team.
“This is just the way the game is played these days: spread the floor, very few low-post plays,” Kerr said. “The game has changed a lot. I don’t know why Charles continues to crush us. But the game’s changed, and almost everybody is playing like this now.”
Whereas the big men of yesteryear – Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson etc. – tended to operate in the low post, those of today are more likely to venture out beyond the elbow, and even the arc.
“The big guys that you see now who are coming into the league, the best players, guys like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns, they’re out there shooting jump shots, because they grew up handling the ball,” Kerr said. “They grew up as guys who wanted to be Kevin Durant, and not Charles Oakley.”
Though some of the transition is due to bigger players being more versatile, it’s also a matter of coaches understanding new rules and finding rosters that can exploit them. Gone is the hand-check, as well as the days of zone defenses being illegal.
“We do what we need to do to be successful,” Kerr said. “. . . Our players are suited to play the way we play, and we’re not going to apologize for that. But we know that criticism and judgment are just part of the deal. It really doesn’t bother us.”