The first season in Los Angeles hardly went as planned for LeBron James, as he and the Lakers missed out on the 2019 NBA playoffs.
With that void in his schedule, “Inside The NBA” analyst Charles Barkley again asked James last night to visit the set and analyze games alongside himself, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.
“I said this before America, and this is the last time: LeBron James, come into the studio,” Barkley said. “You ain’t got nothing to do. The playoffs started yesterday and you’ve got free time. I know you’ve got to pick a coach and a general manager, just put that on the back burner. I’m speaking on behalf — I’m begging you on behalf — of Ernie, Kenny and Shaq.
“LeBron, how about this? You can leave at halftime of the second game.”
James responded to Barkley via Twitter today, writing: “Sir Charles, I actually do have a ton going on but I may take you up on your offer. We shall see. #KingInStudio”
The Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention with their March 22 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets. For James, this marked the first time since the 2004-05 season that he was not a part of the postseason party.
However, roughly two weeks before that, Barkley originally planted the seed of having James on the “Inside The NBA” set.
“You think we can get him on the show?” Barkley said on March 8. “LeBron, since you’re going to have some free time once the playoffs start, I’ve got a seat for you. The first weekend of the playoffs, we’ll put you up at a good hotel. We’ll get you a first-class ticket. We always bring players in for the playoffs. You’re not going to be busy for the playoffs, so I’m inviting you here.”
“LeBron, you have my number. Shoot me a text, I’ll send you my bank account number if you want me to knock him out for you,” O’Neal said.
On Sunday’s show, Smith was protesting Barkley’s offer to allow James to leave at halftime of the second game. Barkley dismissed that and added a few more comments in his plea to James.
“It’s just like when we have regular opinions around here — Kenny’s opinion don’t matter,” Barkley said. “You can leave at halftime …”
“LeBron, Chuck is begging you. Like I say, you ain’t got nothing to do. Hey, listen: you can pick your coach and general manager later down the line.”
“We can help you do it,” Smith said.
“We can help you do it,” Barkley said. “Shaq knows, he was a joy to coach. Kenny’s been interviewing for coaching jobs the last couple of years. So, come on in LeBron, please.”
“Charles, that was impassioned and heart-felt,” Johnson said.
The offseason has already begun for the Lakers with a flurry of activity. First, team president Magic Johnson stunned the team by abruptly stepping down from his position last week. That was followed by coach Luke Walton and the Lakers mutually agreeing to part ways over the weekend. Walton was not unemployed for long, though, as the Sacramento Kings officially hired him today to fill their coaching vacancy.