If Stephen A. Smith gets ripped for admitting he doesn’t care about hockey, Charles Barkley should be called out for not caring about the NBA.
After the conclusion of a regular season that many sports fans believe is too long, the NBA playoffs are finally here, ushered in by the Play-In Tournament. It’s supposed to be an exciting time for basketball fans, and certainly for the people who get paid to talk about the NBA, but Charles Barkley says people shouldn’t bother watching because the outcomes are too predictable.
Charles Barkley: “The only thing that’s exciting about the Eastern Conference is Knicks vs Cavaliers. That’s the only thing exciting
“America, don’t be foolish, they want you to watch these games; Philly, Boston, Milwaukee are head & shoulders above the rest of these bums in the… pic.twitter.com/lSLfUFi9NX
— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) April 12, 2023
“Let’s stop joking around, who cares, these teams ain’t gonna beat the top three teams. Stop it. Come on man.” Barkley said of the NBA Playoffs. “America, don’t be foolish. They want you to watch these games. Philly, Boston, Milwaukee are head and shoulders above the rest of these bums in the Eastern Conference.”
Barkley did not say this on an independent podcast or radio show, he said it on Inside the NBA, the league’s premier studio show.
“And now you know why Chuck did not take that job with the promotions department of Warner Bros. Discovery,” Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson quipped. “As we are one night into the play-in and ‘These games don’t matter and don’t watch.’”
“I didn’t say don’t watch,” Barkley retorted, as Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith claimed he did say “don’t watch.”
Barkley may not have said “don’t watch” verbatim, but he certainly encouraged NBA fans to not watch the Play-In Tournament and the first round of the playoffs, which TNT’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery pays a lot of money to air. WBD also recently handed Barkley a massive contract worth upwards of $200 million to complement its NBA package with studio analysis.
Fans will chuckle at his brashness, claiming it’s just “Chuck being Chuck.” But Barkley telling viewers not to bother watching the early rounds of the playoffs is more damaging than when he hates on the Lakers or playfully admits he doesn’t know who a player is. The playoffs are supposed to be a huge opportunity for the NBA to grow, and Barkley’s going to act like TNT should just be airing reruns of Law & Order for the next few weeks?
Last month, Stephen A. Smith was chastised for brushing hockey aside as a secondary sport during an episode of First Take, seemingly ignoring the $400 million ESPN pays for NHL game rights. But Smith doesn’t cover the NHL, he doesn’t star on an NHL studio show, and he’s not expected to be an ambassador of the game. If Smith doesn’t like hockey, so be it. But Barkley is the highest paid NBA analyst ever, and shamelessly dismissing the playoffs as a throwaway event is a really bad look.