Charles Barkley got the better of LeBron James.
Following the NBA All-Star Draft on TNT Thursday night, James and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo hung around to discuss their picks with Barkley and the rest of the Inside the NBA crew. The main topic of discussion was a trade that moved Sixers star Ben Simmons from Team Giannis to Team LeBron.
“I approve it,” Kenny Smith said, with co-hosts Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal agreeing.
That’s when Barkley jumped in with his own suggestion.
“Actually, I think the best way to do this is for Giannis to trade everyone on his bench for Anthony Davis,” Barkley joked, mocking James’ failed attempt to push the Lakers to acquire the New Orleans Pelicans star.
James, who doesn’t exactly have the best relationship with Barkley, stemming from a 2017 feud, laughed at Barkley’s jab. James was accused of tampering back in December, after he said it would be “amazing” if Davis took his talents to Los Angeles, leading the NBA to issue a memo reminding teams of the league’s tampering rules.
Antetokounmpo actually made the first jab in reverence to the Lakers’ failed attempt to secure Davis, jokingly asking after James picked the Pelicans star during the All-Star Draft, “Isn’t that tampering?”
“Tampering rules do not apply on All-Star Weekend,” James responded with a laugh.
Everyone seemed in a joking mood Thursday night, including Simmons, who mocked ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski for not breaking the news of the All-Star trade on Twitter.
As for the draft itself, James’ not-so-subtle strategy appeared to be picking players who will soon become free agents, including Simmons, who will become a restricted free agent in 2020.
James’ first three picks — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Kawhi Leonard — are expected to hit the market at the end of the season. So is Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, whom James selected for his All-Star bench.
As for Joel Embiid, he was selected by Team Giannis with the fourth overall pick, so he and Simmons should have at least some chances to go head-to-head during the All-Star Game on Feb. 17 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte.
Amid all the excitement of the NBA trade deadline on Thursday, many unsuspecting fans were duped by a fake tweet about Anthony Davis from @sportstalkbarry, who changed the appearance of his account to fool people into thinking he was ESPN’s Wojnarowski. The tweet has since been deleted, but here’s what it said:
Pelican superstar Anthony Davis is filing a grievance, saying the team refused to trade him because of his sexuality, a league source tells ESPN.
Among those fooled by the fake news was 97.5 The Fanatic morning show host and former Eagles Pro Bowler Anthony “Tra” Thomas, who said he was hanging out at home drinking wine and watching SportsCenter when he saw the post and instantly re-tweeted it.
“I don’t pay attention to the blue check or if he’s been validated, I don’t know … I don’t have a blue check,” Thomas said. “I just saw this tweet that was too hilarious and thought, ‘I’ve got to share this’ without really checking my sources.”
Thomas is far from the first person fooled by false sports news on Twitter. Last month, Twitter finally suspended an account using the name Jeff Evans that falsely claimed to be an on-air contributor to 97.3 ESPN, who repeatedly duped Phillies fans with fake news about free agent Bryce Harper.
“I think I’ve blocked Fake Ken Rosenthal and Fake Adam Schefter,” said Marc Farzetta, Thomas’ morning show co-host. “It is a nice thing though when you’re at work and you’re in this business, and you see something and re-tweet it, and then you hear someone else in the room go, ‘You idiot.’ “
Yes, you read that correctly. Mike Tirico, the host for NBC’s primetime Olympics coverage and its flagship NFL pregame show, Football Night in America, will be in the booth to do play-by-play for his first hockey game when the Detroit Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday Night Hockey on Feb. 20.
“Growing up in New York, and now living in Metro Detroit, I’ve always loved the sport of hockey as a fan, attending as many games as possible each season. So the chance to call a game is a bucket list item for me,” said Tirico, who joined NBC in 2016 after spending 15 years with ESPN.
Calling the game alongside Tirico will be analyst Eddie Olczyk and “Inside-the-Glass” analyst Brian Boucher. NBC Sports executive producer and president Sam Flood said Tirico deserved the opportunity to call a game after his solid job hosting NBC’s broadcasts of the Stanley Cup and the Winter Classic.