NBA: Philadelphia 76ers-Barkley Statue
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Barkley opted to play with fire Wednesday, going hard after female critics of Women’s National Basketball Association rookie sensation Caitlin Clark.

Barkley made the comments during TNT’s “Inside the NBA” pregame show. He was responding to a similar analysis made by LeBron James in a separate interview.

“People need to realize, the Indiana Fever — this is the second year in a row they had the No. 1 pick. Do y’all know what that means?” James asked. “That means they’re not that good.”

Wait, is Clark receiving a torrent of criticism that I somehow missed? Yes, the Indian Fever are 0-5, but I don’t think there are too many people saying she’s the problem, what with her roughly 18 points and 6 assists per game.

That said, not only did LeBron feel the need to defend Caitlin Clark, but Charles Barkley did as well. Except he cranked things up to 11 by voicing his disappointment directly into the camera and calling out women in particular.

“You women out there, y’all petty, man,” said Barkley.

Oh boy. Better duck, Charles.

“LeBron, you’re 100% right on these girls hating on Caitlin Clark. Y’all petty, girls,” he continued. “I expect men to be petty because we’re the most insecure group in the world. Y’all should be thanking that girl for getting y’all a– private charters, all the money and visibility she’s bringing to the WNBA.”

RELATED: Caitlin Clark Just Got A New Endorsement Deal That Puts Her In Rare Air: Not ‘Since Michael Jordan’

Charles Barkley Should Have Stopped At ‘You Women’

Any time you opt, as Charles Barkley has done here, to start a statement off with “you women”, you might as well make sure you have all your affairs in order.

There’s a lot of nervous laughter there on the set when the ‘Round Mound of Rebound’ goes off on his rant.

“They’re gonna hate you even more now, Chuck,” Draymond Green replies.

Barkley fires back, “They can’t do anything to me.”

Yikes, man. Yikes. So far, a few WNBA players have fired back at Barkley.

Los Angeles Sparks forward Dearica Hamby had but one simple question for Sir Charles: “Seriously…. wtf are you talking about?”

New York Liberty star Jonquel Jones openly wondered where these supposed critics of Caitlin Clark are.

“Interested to know who are all the women that are hating on [Clark]?” she asked. “I’m seeing a lot of coverage about it but I don’t see the hate?”

It’s a valid question. Is there real criticism crashing down on Clark right now or are these fellas reading things on social media? Or Antonio Brown’s timeline?

I’m not seeing it quite yet.

RELATED: LeBron James Says He’s Rooting For Caitlin Clark: ‘I’ve Been In That Seat Before’

Drawing Crowds

Actually, Charles Barkley’s whole shpiel reminded me of a bit by comedian Bill Burr, where he suggested maybe getting mad at critics of the WNBA isn’t the answer.

It was a bit about people getting upset that female players aren’t paid the same as male players. And how those who are mad are mostly, as Charles might say, “you women.”

“None of you went to the games,” Burr says. “None of you. You failed them. Not me. Women failed the WNBA. Ladies, name your top five WNBA players of all time. Name the WNBA team in your city. You can’t do it.”

Caitlin Clark is possibly changing all that. The crowd in attendance at Indiana’s recent road loss to the Seattle Storm was 18,343.

“Caitlin Clark is the reason why a lot of great things are going to happen for the WNBA,” James said.

There aren’t too many people that disagree.

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