Wild Yams reminded me of this little brouhaha in the TNT studio last night. I added it to Worst of the Night, but it really deserved its own post. As Mr. Yams put it: "Chuck's second big gaffe of the night was saying that this Lakers team is the best one Kobe's ever been on, although him saying that was totally worth it for Webber's fantastic reaction of wanting to walk off the set in disbelief. I love how Barkley shoots from the hip like that and doesn't think through the things he's about to say, because every now and then he'll let fly with a Bill Walton-esque bit of hyperbole like that. God bless Barkley."
God bless Barkley, indeed. And Webber's awestruck reaction really was the best; it even succeeded in getting Chuck to back down and revise his statement to: "Let me rephrase that. I think this Laker team is potentially, they could win a lot of championships in the next couple years. That maybe is the way I should have phrased it." Yeah. Maybe so.
As Ernie Johnson put it: "Rick Fox, rolling over in his grave." Here's the video.
Update! I was just over at basketball-reference.com trying to decide which Shaq-Kobe Lakers team would have kicked this year's Kobe-Gasol team's ass the hardest...but Mr. Yams beat me to the punch. "Seriously though, what the hell was Barkley saying, thinking that this Lakers team is better than some of those Shaq-led ones. The 2001 Lakers swept the 50-win Blazers in the 1st round, swept the 55-win Kings in the 2nd round and swept the 58-win Spurs (including wins by 39 & 29 in Games 3 & 4) in the WCF, before losing one OT game en route to a five-game victory over the 56-win Sixers (with 3 of those wins coming in Philly) for the title. You're gonna tell me that this current Laker team is better than that one?"
Yup. That's the team I would have picked too. They may have "only" won 56 games, but Kobe missed 14 games and Shaq missed 8. You could probably point to the 67-win team from 2000 too -- you know, "The Glen Rice Team"* -- but Kobe wasn't nearly as good as he would become the very next season.
*That was the year when Glen Rice decided that 12.3 shots per game wasn't good enough, even though he got the chance to play with Shaq and Kobe and win a championship. The next season, he was in New York getting 10 shots per game, winning 48 games, and getting knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the Toronto Raptors. Good call, Glen. A few seasons later, Rice finished up his career by playing 18 games for the Los Angeles Clippers. Sometimes Karma really is a bitch.