MIAMI -- The pulpit changed from TNT's NBA studio show to a sitdown interview on CNN with Rachel Nichols.
But that hardly had Charles Barkley changing his tune when it came to the Heat and LeBron James.
Asked about his lack of a championship ring during his Hall of Fame NBA career, Barkley veered into LeBron's lane and stayed there for a while.
"It's interesting," Barkley said. "People always ask me about the championship ring. And I never think like they think. You know, basketball's what I do, it's not who I am.
"I thought LeBron shoulda stayed in Cleveland. Just 'cause he got them rings now, he ain't no better. Think about the notion that, just because I didn't win a sportin' event, my life is not successful. That's gotta be the stupidest thing I ever heard."
James has won NBA championships the past two seasons with the Heat. He can become a free agent this coming offseason.
Asked if he would like to see James back in Cleveland, where he began his NBA career, not far from James' childhood home in Akron, Barkley said, "I think it'd be great for him to go back to Cleveland. Number one, I don't think they are great fans in Miami. I thought they were great fans in Cleveland."
Barkley in recent years has had a somewhat antagonistic relationship with Heat fans.
"I'm not digging a deeper -- they're not the -- listen, those were the same fans who were leaving when they thought they had lost to the Spurs," he said of the Heat's last-minute comeback in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals. "So let's don't act like they're super fans."
Before Saturday's game against the Cavaliers, Cleveland coach Mike Brown said he is not surprised that James has come to be viewed as an improved player at this stage of his career.
"I wouldn't put it past him that he still can improve his game," said Brown, who coached James in Cleveland.
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