The NBA on TNT and Inside the NBA have been staples of the basketball lexicon since the late 1990's. The chemistry and showmanship of the cast around Ernie Johnson has yet to be matched in another sports studio show.
But at this point, Charles Barkley has become the relative at the holiday get-together that you wince every time they open their mouth.
Barkley ignored his usual Rockets targets, Dwight Howard and Josh Smith, turning instead to the Rockets defense. Sir Charles proclaimed that two teams he once played for, the Rockets and Suns, were the two worst defensive teams in playoff contention.
On the surface, a fair statement. The Suns had give up 41 points, and the Rockets 38 on their part each in just one quarter last night. But Chuck ignored the fact that the Rockets are in the top ten in defensive efficiency (100.2), adjusted field goal percentage (.486), opponent 3-point percentage (.319), opponent turnovers (15.7), and opponent points per shot (1.19).
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey took offense to Barkley's comments:
Best part of being at a TNT game live is it is easy to avoid Charles spewing misinformed biased vitriol disguised as entertainment— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) February 11, 2015
Of course, later on that night TNT posted that tweet on the broadcast for the panel to talk. Barkley took this as a moment to tell the world how it was better in his day and to yell at clouds.
In one sense, Barkley is right. The NBA is run by its stars, team inefficiency can be masked by player like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and James Harden. Sometimes it just doesn't matter what defense you run, just ask P.J. Tucker.
But it would be ignorant to stick our heads and ignore analytics. Analytics has created "Moreyball", a game plan that has changed how teams value the three-pointer and made midrange jumpers almost extinct. Those same analytics help define roles for players like Josh Smith, heat maps show how to defend players, and metrics help teams find gems in the NBA draft.
If Barkley wants to be guy holding up the old banner of grit and guy feelings, that's fine. He can watch while the nerds take over the world.