It would be difficult to say LeBron James had a bad game Tuesday considering he scored 26 points and led the Miami Heat with seven assists and 11 rebounds, but Charles Barkley believes James' play in the fourth quarter of Golden State's overtime victory enhanced a reputation for being somewhat passive.
"I think LeBron James' personality is he just defers," Barkley said Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "
Barkley's evidence is that James was not credited with a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, although he did shoot two free throws. James missed a potential game-tying three-pointer in overtime as the Warriors hung on for a 111-106 victory.
Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade, who returned after missing three games with a bruised left foot, took seven shots in the fourth quarter, although he hit just one.
"He went from scoring 30 points a game last week when Dwyane was out to when Dwyane came back, he stepped back a little bit," Barkley said. "I tell people, LeBron James is a great, great player. But I think he's just one of those nice guys, 'Well Dwyane's back, I'm going to defer to him.' That's all it could be. To not take a shot ...
"My personal opinion is he just doesn't have an aggressive personality."
That also was a theme among critics of James' performance in the NBA Finals last season.
James didn't play in one of the three games Wade sat out recently, but in the two he played, James averaged 32.5 points, 12 assists and 7.5 rebounds. For the season, he averages 29.7 points, 8.0 boards and 7.6 assists.
"You saw when Dwyane was out, LeBron had like monster games," Barkley said. "He almost averaged a triple-double.
"He's a really nice guy. I've said that before. LeBron James is just a really nice guy."
Barkley drew the ire of some Heat fans last season when he said some of the negative reaction the team was receiving on the road was due to preseason celebrations and talk of multiple championships after James signed as a free agent.
After a somewhat uneven regular season, the Heat marched to the NBA Finals before losing to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. Barkley isn't sure Miami will necessarily take the next step this season.
"If LeBron or Dwyane don't play like monsters, they're not going to win (a title)," Barkley said. " I've seen them play quite a bit. They don't have great depth across the front line. They don't have really any big guys to get easy baskets.
"Even Chris Bosh is a terrific player, but he's more of a jump shooter. So it's all going to be on Dwyane and LeBron. That's the key."