Words By Malik V.
It’s now old news that Charles Barkley was arrested for running a stop sign while drunk on New Year’s Eve. The mug shot and his alleged talk of fellatio among other strange activities combined for quite an ugly incident. Reports also surfaced that Barkley’s blood-alcohol level was almost twice the legal amount when he was pulled over.
In light of those events, I wasn’t surprised when I heard that Sir Charles was taking a leave of absence from broadcasting. I’m happy he’s taking the time to patch up the issues he’s facing. But on a selfish level, I’m quite saddened. TNT halftime and postgame shows will certainly lack the flair and humor that Barkley brings in his rants with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Magic Johnson.
I’ve always bought into the general consensus that the big fella is one of the best sports commentators today. While others seem to either yell themselves into irrelevance (Stephen A. Smith), or simply latch on to the bandwagon of the hottest current teams and players (pretty much everyone else), Barkley does his own thing. His combination of ignorance and spot-on analysis is a thing of beauty. We as fans and viewers can both make fun of Barkley for his mispronunciations (“ath-a-letic“) and moments of stupidity, but can also look to him to accurately break down a game. No one else can kiss a donkey’s ass and still show up to work with his dignity and street cred intact.
Barkley’s widespread approval has given him several pardons by the media. His gambling issues are well-known and talked about all the time. However, no one really has taken him to task in a manner that other celebrities have had to endure. After his New Year’s Eve antics, Barkley finally seems to be taking some heat. Jim Rome, Michael Wilbon and other sports-talk personalities are combining their sympathy with genuine concern and criticism, instead of simply going with the latter like always.
There’s no doubt TNT and sports banter in general will lose a significant contributor with the Round Mound of Rebound’s leave. But he needs to get things back in order and come back full strength to show the other “experts” how it’s really done. That jacked-up golf swing can wait; Sir Charles has bigger problems to tackle.
Perhaps TNT can get Frank Caliendo to fill his slot in the interim.