With the NBA lockout dragging on for another week, some reporters are optimistic that both sides will settle their differences in time for most of the season to be saved. Charles Barkley disagrees.
On Tuesday, he appeared on NBATV to talk about the NBA lockout, and per usual, Barkley minced no words. "I've said all along," he began. "I don't think they're gonna play this year. I think the owners, uh... It's two things to me. I think the owners are saying, 'you know what? We're gonna do like hockey. We're gonna have to burn down the house and start over, come in with a cap, and make this thing competitive for all the teams.'
"I think that's what the owners have said from the beginning," he continued. "They're not gonna budge this time. They're gonna hold our feet to the fire, and they're gonna get what they want, or we're not gonna play at all this year. I've said that from the beginning."
As for the players role in all this, Barkley thinks they've made a mistake by underestimating the owners' resolve. "I think in the back of the players mind, they're trying to play hardball, and in the back of their mind they think, 'Oh, we'll start the season in January.'"
In other words, once the lockout begins costing them games, the owners may not soften their position the way they did during the 1998 NBA lockout. "I don't think you can compare 1998 to 2011," Barkley explained. "Number one we've been in a recession for the last two or three years, some of these teams are really hurting. Player salaries have continued to go up, and they're gonna continue to go up. I think the players made a major mistake thinking, 'Oh, they'll only cancel the first couple months of the season, and we'll do like we did in 1998, and play in January.'
As he continued, "Those owners feel like, 'We'll lose less money not playin at all.' And I think that's been their strategy from the beginning." Again, if you were looking for optimism, Barkley's not the man.
You can watch the full interview on NBA TV here. As it concludes, Rick Kamla says, "Well Charles, wish we had more time to talk..."
"Lemme break something to ya," Barkley interjects. "We got a lotta damn time to talk."