Three weeks after Billy Packer criticized the way CBS and Turner Sports plan to air the NCAA tournament this March, the most outspoken new voice of March Madness took time to respond.
Charles Barkley launched into a memorable soliloquy at halftime of Thursday night's game between the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks, replying directly to Packer's assertion that TNT's NBA-centric analysts won't fare well in their first foray into college basketball.
"Hey Billy Packer, you might be right," Barkley said. "We might not be very good and know all the players on all the teams in college basketball. I don't know any players on Wofford or UNC Asheville. You are absolutely right. But stop being a jackass.
"Listen, we're going to do a good job. And I know you said they should have went to ESPN. Well, there was one problem. ESPN didn't have 11 billion dollars. We did. That's why we got it. So sit back, enjoy the March Madness with Greg Gumbel, Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and all of us. And shut the hell up."
Barkley's rant came in response to an interview Packer conducted with USA Today last month about the subtle changes CBS and Turner will implement this March. Packer disapproved of Steve Kerr joining Nantz and Kellogg in a three-man Final Four booth, and Barkley and Kenny Smith analyzing games from the studio, likening it to "having somebody who just did [pro football] come in to call the SEC title game."
Had the NCAA been looking out for college basketball's best interest instead of for the most lucrative deal it could find, Packer believes it ought to have entered into an agreement with ESPN to air the tournament. Packer advocated ESPN because the network has a stable of college basketball announcers familiar with the sport and may be better capable of promoting the tournament.
Packer's curmudgeonly reputation make it difficult to take his complaints seriously sometimes, but he's not alone in his fears about analysts who are unfamiliar with college basketball working the NCAA tournament.
Kerr and Reggie Miller both answered questions about that topic in recent phone interviews with The Dagger. And Barkley addressed it with reporters during a news conference held earlier this week in New York.
"I'm not going to watch 100 college basketball teams play, that's [bull]," Barkley said. "I'll probably watch 30 or 40 teams play and the rest I'm going to have to get my college coach friends [to help]."