Tuesday night on TNT’s Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley offered as blunt an assessment of Warriors forward Draymond Green as you’re bound to find, declaring “I want to punch his ass in the face.” Within hours Draymond had responded, challenging Barkley to, in fact, punch him in the face.
And while the back-and-forth may have sounded like something from the mouths of fourth-graders who were sugar-high on lunchtime apple juice, it made for some good television. And it led Washington Post NBA writer Tim Bontemps to tweet something absolutely fascinating.
The best part about this entire Draymond-Barkley thing? Whenever Draymond's career is done, he is the obvious heir apparent to Barkley's throne as the preeminent studio guy. He'll be amazing at it.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) May 2, 2018
When you think about it, Barkley and Green have a whole lot in common. Both made their names as undersized forwards known for their physicality and toughness. Both behaved in a way that made some fans uneasy. And both have always had big-ass mouths.
When you think about it, Draymond is the type of personality TV executives dream of plopping at a studio desk. He’s smart, he’s famous, he’s comfortable in front of the camera and, most importantly, he’s entirely unafraid to say things that might piss people off. Especially in a league like the NBA that thrives off drama and controversy, he’d make the perfect analyst.
Obviously we don’t know whether Green actually wants to go into television when his career ends (though he has shown interest in media, as the onetime co-host of a popular podcast), but let’s assume for a second that he does. He figures to retire sometime next decade — say, 2025 when he’s 35 years old. Well, at that point Barkley will be 62, right around the age he plans to call it quits.
If Barkley follows through on his promise and retires in his early 60s, Turner Sports will have a massive hole to fill and will likely crave a big name for the role. The network could drag Kevin Garnett over from Area 21 or bring Chris Webber to the studio full-time… or it could pursue the loudest, most controversial player of his generation. And if not Turner, then surely ESPN or NBA TV or whoever else airs pro basketball by that point would make a run at Draymond.
Hey, we’re just saying.
Some fans in Bontemps’ mentions argued that Green isn’t lovable enough to fill Barkley’s role as the NBA’s preeminent studio analyst, but it’s not as if Chuck was universally beloved during his playing career. In fact, it’s not likability that makes Barkley a compelling studio analyst. It’s humor, candor and force of personality. All of which Draymond has in excess.
Just picture this. The year is 2034. The Seattle SuperSonics are facing the Mexico City Tigres in the NBA league semifinals (as conferences have been abolished). LeBron James Jr. drives to the basket and takes a hard foul from Shareef O’Neal and the two start jawing. From Turner Sports studios in Atlanta, TNT analyst Draymond Green begins to ramble about how tough players were back when he played, how they could even withstand a blow to the balls once in a while. He declares bluntly that he wishes someone would punch O’Neal in the face.
Somewhere, Charles Barkley nods approvingly.