Photo: Los Angeles Lakers/Twitter

Whatever his position in the GOAT conversation and the amount of public scrutiny he receives, there is indeed no doubt that LeBron James has a one-of-a-kind career – in which Charles Barkley proudly applauds.

In an unplugged interview with Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated, Barkley didn’t hesitate to praise James for having the “greatest story in sports history” given his flawed progress from the beginning and also by being a notable figure outside of the game.

“First of all, I think LeBron is a really nice man. I think he’s a really nice man and he’s a really good dude, but I’ll say this: I think his story, it’s the greatest story in sports history,” he said. “People forget, Kobe Bryant wasn’t very good coming into the NBA. People forget that. And he’s one of the greatest ever, you know. Kevin Garnett struggled. 

“The only guy I’ve ever seen come right out of high school who lived up was LeBron. And for him to come in at 18 and be as good as he was as a player, and obviously he’s come in and he’s one of the greatest ever, depending on what generation you’re from, and to never have gotten in trouble, especially in today’s society where everybody’s got a cellphone and everybody’s out to get you, I think his story is the greatest story in sports.”

James truly has a story that can be read like a Hollywood script. From being a poor kid born and raised by his single mother, he ascended as an icon of the game and shouldered every burden of expectations from many since his promising, highly publicized high school hoops. 

From the start, James remained flawless and also transformed himself as an all-time great with his generational talent and impeccable all-round traits – bagging four league championships, four MVP trophies, and countless sports accolades. He made himself a priceless figure with various partnership and business endorsements.

Off the court, James stands as a role model for all given his unbreakable bond with his family and evasion of scandals in this world wherein many athletes succumb to criticisms due to their issues outside their respective sport. Being fatherless seems to have served as his motivation to create that special consideration toward his loved ones.

Now at 39 years of age, James continues to age like a fine wine as he still managed to drop 28.9 points, 8.3 boards, and 6.8 assists last season and lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a Western Conference Finals finish. His longevity has been nothing but superb which hasn’t been seen in the game of basketball.

No matter how his critics view him, James indeed has a strong fan in Barkley with regards to how he consistently conducts in an admirable way his professional and personal life.

“To be that good. Number one, to live up to the hype, but also grow into the conversation of the GOAT and never even came close to getting in trouble. I think his story is the greatest story in sports history, and I’ll always admire him.”