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No Back Talk From Barkley

Charles Barkley won't get into a "war of words" with teammate Scottie Pippen, who earlier this week called him "selfish," "fat" and lacking in dedication.

"This Pippen (talk) is an annoying distraction to me, but I'll take the high road and not respond," Barkley told the Houston Chronicle in a phone interview Thursday from Phoenix. "It takes some control, but I have to do it. Why get into a war of words?"

Pippen blasted Barkley Wednesday in an ESPN Interview, saying he "doesn't show the desire to want to win." The attack responded to Barkley's August criticism of Pippen's efforts to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would be reunited with former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson.

Barkley complained then that he had sacrificed greatly to make salary-cap room on the Rockets for Pippen, who signed a five-year, $67.2 million contract before last season.

"He's creating all this controversy just to get traded," Barkley said Thursday. "He wants to get traded so bad that he'll just say anything to make it happen. He should have just called me and said that he didn't want to play here anymore. That's all it would have taken."

The Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers reportedly are discussing a trade that would send Pippen to Portland for Kelvin Cato, Stacey Augmon, Walt Williams, Ed Gray, Brian Shaw and Carlos Rogers. But Barkley said the deal might not materialize.

"We may have to play together," Barkley said of himself and Pippen. "If they don't trade him, we may have some problems."

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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