CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One thing we all know about Charles Barkley is that he does not mince words.

Such was the case as Barkley spoke on a national stage during the NCAA broadcast, pointing out on several occasions that he believed the NBA was in a worse space than it ever has been. It is not the first time he has made that comment, and it is unlikely to be the last. 


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"Clearly, the NBA sucks right now," Barkley said at a Tuesday event prior to his on-air comments. "The NBA is the worst it's ever been. I feel bad for the fans because they are not getting a quality product. All the players are making a lot of money but these fans are not getting quality basketball."

There is one man who begs to differ with Barkley's statement, and he happens to be running the league right now, a league he considers to be in great condition. Asked if the comments were simply Charles being Charles, NBA commissioner Adam Silver responded, "Yes, with all due respect." 

"I think the league is in great shape," Silver said. "I think the level of competition is terrific. I hear directly from fans as well. We've had some incredible matchups on the floor this year. Night in and night out, we have great basketball."

There are obvious points that help the commissioner's case, with an ultra-competitive Western Conference and several players who will go down as some of the greatest to play basketball. 

The first examples that came to mind for Silver were Kevin Durant and LeBron James, who he plans to meet with on the future of sleeved jerseys after the season. In this case, his focus was on their back-and-forth exchange in this season's MVP race. 

"We have some of the best players currently playing who may have ever played this game," Silver said. "Even just to think about the sort of LeBron going back and forth with Kevin Durant this year as potential MVPs."

But, as we all know, there is an underbelly to the perception of competitive play within the NBA, and it lives in the Eastern Conference.

Several teams on that side of the country are vying for playoff spots with sub-.500 records, while others sit at the bottom with hopes to land low enough to scrape up a player in this latest batch of lottery picks. 

Silver did not shy away from this topic, even discussing the Philadelphia 76ers' 24-game losing streak as potentially detrimental to the franchise.

Silver has repeatedly said he defines tanking as when coaches and players intentionally go out and try to lose games, and he does not see that as the case right now, not even in Philadelphia. Still, he is aware that the losses adding up for the Sixers can be bad for business. 

"You don't like to see any team go through a losing streak like they currently are, or flirt with the longest losing streak in the history of the league," Silver said. "That's bad for everyone, it's potentially damaging to the players involved and the culture they're trying to create." 

While the lows are especially low, the highs are plentiful. Silver chose to focus his final words on the stage of the league on that side — and his love for Barkley. 

"To me, the game can always get better and we're constantly looking to tinker with the rules and get a group of players who are even more ready to play at this level of competition," Silver said. "But I'm very satisfied with where the game is right now. And I still love Charles."