Over the past few months, a campaign has arisen seeking to pair Charles Barkley and Dick Vitale in the booth to call a game together. Vitale has been vocal about wanting to do it. Barkley wants to do it. ESPN seemingly wants it to happen. However, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, it appears that Turner Sports is keeping the fantasy broadcast pairing from becoming reality.
Thursday night, someone was finally able to bring together the two bald beacons of basketball. Someone more powerful than any combination of network executives. That someone was Conan O'Brien.
O'Brien, whose show ironically appears on Turner owned TBS, is in Atlanta for the Final Four and brought on the pair as guests. Barkley is there working for CBS and Vitale will call his first Final Four this weekend for ESPN International. Conan then had the duo put on headsets and call some basketball action. Of course this being Conan, it wasn't anything normal, but ironic, bizarre mascots attempting to dunk on trampolines. The mascots included Mr. "BL"T and a skyscraper with erectile dysfunction. I guess it serves as a window into what could be…
That segment was equal parts charming, awkward, and funny, with a couple dashes of discomfort from hearing Charles Barkley and Dick Vitale joke about erectile dysfunction. If Conan O'Brien can make this happen, what's stopping Turner Sports from simply having Vitale on to call an NBA game and Barkley appear on ESPN to call a college game during the regular season? The broadcast wouldn't be studied in journalism classes for its technical superiority, but it'd be a winning proposition for the announcers and the networks. And judging from their chemistry on the Conan set, basketball fans might even enjoy it too.