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In a conversation with an ESPN radio program on Wednesday morning – a place where a lot of embarrassing things tend to happen even if ex-players don’t say ridiculous things – TNT’s Charles Barkley confirmed what we’ve all long suspected.
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He doesn’t watch much NBA basketball. If the Warriors or LeBron James aren’t involved, he can’t be bothered. He is your typical Thursday Evening Power Forward.
“Listen, first of all, I want to thank the Golden State Warriors, because it’s been very awful basketball this year. Awful. I mean, just bad. If you think about it -- and I’m not no old guy hating -- but unless Golden State is playing the Clippers, the Cavs, Oklahoma City, the Spurs, I’m not going to watch a full NBA basketball [game]. It’s not very good basketball. And I love basketball. But there’s only a couple games -- well, there’s only five games I’m watching top to bottom. The rest of the games aren’t worth watching top to bottom. [...] We want it to be competitive. We don’t want to have four good teams. I want people in Milwaukee. I want people in Philly. I want people in Boston. I want to see competitive games. And right now we’re not getting that."
I want to see competitive games, too. That’s why, in 2000, I bought something called “League Pass,” which allows me to watch competitive and entertaining basketball (OK, 2000-01 was a bit of a stretch in that realm) every night. Someday, hopefully Charles will decide to go all-in and treat himself to the package. They even break it up into four easy payments!
Again, Charles isn’t telling us anything new. You don’t think a re-showing of “Who He Play For?” to point out as much. Hell, we’re the guys that have to watch the games in Philadelphia, and I consider myself lucky for hitting 80 percent in WHPF.
Barkley has been a Turner Sports fixture since the fin de siècle. His standout performance during the waning days of the 1999-00 regular season and that year’s NBA draft gave notice that future Hall of Famer was going to act as a brilliant television personality for years to come. A decade and a half later, his reputation as a must-watch (even at 2 AM, Atlanta-time) is inarguable.
This is a long way of saying, “Charles Barkley doesn’t watch much NBA basketball, and who cares?”
Watching Sacramento Kings games well past our bedtime, or in the morning that follows after game time, is for nerds like us. Anyone who has listened to Barkley rant on about subjects that he clearly is shooting blind about knows that this guy only makes time for the nationally-televised games. If even that – the Turner crew frequently mocks Barkley for clicking away from the games his own network is showing, games he’s charged with covering, if his boredom sets in.
Barkley makes up for it, however, by owning up to “it.” The ESPN radio hosts that interviewed him on Wednesday have probably seen fewer NBA games than Charles from end to end this season, and yet they’ll still argue as if they spent all night obsessively working through NBA.com’s stat section. The same goes for the hosts of the midday television program that ESPN has let influence its entire programming day. When you have to switch from Tim Tebow to Kevin Durant’s free agency in the span of a commercial break, sometimes the Nuggets/Clippers analysis gets lost.
Which would be just fine, if these guys wouldn’t pretend like their tepid take was rooted in something that had their eyes glued to the screen the night before. At least Barkley owns his ambivalence.
In 2016, we can get away with this. Charles Barkley is a television personality, and not an analyst (if you want further proof, check in on those millions of NCAA basketball fans banging their heads against the wall when Charles takes to March Madness later this month). We can laugh and enjoy Barkley’s work well after midnight when the latest Warrior game ends, prior to pulling up and clicking on the work of those that are watching a six-hour block of basketball just about every night.
(Seriously, though, Charles – you should really watch more basketball. It’s kind of part of your job, and also it’s really, really fun to do.)
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