Sports

Charles Barkley showed us how bad – and good – he is at his job in a 48-hour span

Who is the real Chuck?

Who is the real Chuck?
Illustration: Getty Images

I’ve been on the record for years detailing why I believe Charles Barkley is the worst person to put in front of a microphone whenever anything of substance needs to be discussed. I’ve also been on the record for saying that I believe Barkley is the greatest power forward that’s ever played the game of basketball, and is the heart and soul of the best studio sports show in the history of television.

Confliction consumes me, and this week proved why.

On Monday, Barkley made headlines after going on a rant on the “Grant and Danny” show on 106.7 The Fan about how “politically correct” people have taken the fun out of doing his job on “Inside The NBA” on TNT.

Here are some of the excerpts:

“You can’t even have fun nowadays without these jackasses trying to get you canceled and things like that.

“That’s all we ever talk about behind the scenes now, like, be careful of going in this direction. I’m like, yo man, we can’t even have fun anymore. We’ve had fun all these years and now all of a sudden, in the last year and half, everybody is trying to get everybody fired and it really sucks.”

“One of my favorite phrases is, ‘We agree to disagree.’ I’m not mad. I don’t want you to be mad. We just disagree. But unfortunately, it’s been happening for a couple years now. If people disagree with you they’re going to get fired.”

Too many times people label things as “politically incorrect” instead of addressing what’s behind it, which is often a desire for others to do, and be, better. Barkley doesn’t want to evolve, grow, and learn. He wants to be beloved for what he is without consequence.

In April, Barkley put the burden of racism on elected officials instead of on actual racists. In January, he said that pro athletes should skip the line for COVID vaccines because they pay more in taxes.

Last September, he ignorantly discussed how he believes that you couldn’t categorize Breonna Taylor’s case with George Floyd’s and Ahmaud Arbery’s. In 2019, he told former Axios reporter Alexi McCammond, “I don’t hit women, but if I did, I would hit you.” And in 2017, he told a room full of Black women at the National Association of Black Journalists Conference in New Orleans that they shouldn’t report sexual harassment/assault until they’re in positions of power at the workplace.

These aren’t examples of Barkley being a victim of “political correctness.” They are patterns of a grown man that refuses to read a book or educate himself on what is and isn’t appropriate.

But then, Tuesday night happened. And when “Inside the NBA” was focused strictly on basketball as they discussed Kevin Durant’s historic performance, Barkley was spectacular in breaking down why the Milwaukee Bucks were so bad in such a pivotal game in the series, as his brutal honesty was refreshing and captivating.

“That was embarrassing for basketball,” he said. “To lose that game, to have that — like, you could tell they were gonna lose the game at halftime. . . . When you do dumb stuff and it works, you keep doing dumb stuff.

“Like Herm Edwards said, ‘You play to win the game.’ And that was one of the dumbest games,” he continued. “Man, I am so mad right now because they got a bunch of really good guys, and they play dumb. And they deserved to lose that game. Shout out to Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, but man, the other team had something to do with it. That was awful basketball.”

According to Axios, Durant’s 49-point, 17-rebound, 10 assists, in 48-minutes performance that gave the Nets a 114-108 victory over the Bucks and a 3-2 series lead, gave him a Game Score (a rough measure of a player’s productivity) of 50.4 – which is the third-best in playoff history.

Want to guess who Durant is trailing?

Barkley, who had a (52.6) in the 1994 playoffs when he had a 56-point, 14-rebound performance against Golden State, and Damian Lillard’s (55.9) after he dropped 55 points – including 12 3’s – and added 10 assists against the Nuggets a few weeks ago.

Watch that clip, because the player in it is one of the all-time greats. So, Chuck, we’re not being hard on you, or “politically correct” in our desires for you to be better. We just want you to be as good with your words when you talk about serious stuff like you were on the court.

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