Be Gay For A Day

Charles Barkley is a pussy!

I’ve always had a lot of respect for Charles Barkley. During his playing days, he was an absolutely fearless competitor who never backed down from anybody. I mean, he once led the league in rebounding despite being listed at a mere 6’5″ (and if he’s actually any taller than 6’3″, I’d be very surprised). The guy even went toe-to-toe with Shaq once …and not only did he live to tell the tale, he took the big fella down. (The best part was Barkley’s post-fight commentary: “My grandma always taught me to fight back. She would have done the very same thing, and probably kicked his ass.”)

Barkley carried that same “pull no punches” attitude into the announcing booth. It was like a breath of fresh air. Finally someone who didn’t kiss ass and try to avoid saying anything even remotely controversial. I even dubbed him the “Round Mound of Retort” in tribute to his knack for telling it like it is, regardless of the subject matter or people involved. Yeah, he’s gotten a fat, and even a little lazy in his commentary, but he doesn’t mince words, doesn’t hold back, and he says what other people don’t have the guts to say. He even threatens to beat up his co-anchors, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson. Now that’s entertainment.

But Barkley let me down last night. Big time. It was supposed to be a showdown between Sir Charles and Kobe Bryant, over comments Barkley made after Kobe threw in the towel halfway through the Lakers’ Game 7 loss to the Suns. Chuck called Kobe selfish, Kobe responded with several expletive-filled text messages (which Barkley gleefully referenced on the air), and so TNT decided to bring Kobe in to be questioned and then tell his side of the story.

Everybody was expecting a showdown. What they got wasn’t worth the five minutes it took to watch. Barkley explained (again) why he called Kobe selfish, and then apologized (?!) for making Kobe’s text messages public knowledge. Kobe then responded with his lame “I was just sticking to the game plan” excuse, and that was it. No rebuttle, no point/counterpoint, no closing statements by both sides. Charles threw in a quick question about Kobe’s upcoming number change right before they went to commercial, and then – just like that – it was over.

I still can’t believe it. The “game plan” excuse doesn’t hold any weight with me, and it shouldn’t hold weight with anybody else, either. Kobe quit that night, plain and simple. Phil Jackson wanted to pound the ball inside, get other guys going, fine. That’s one thing. But Kobe stood at the top of the key, passing off to teammates and emphatically pointing at them as if to say, “No, you do it. I’m done.” He didn’t drive to the hoop to create shots for his teammates. He didn’t crash the boards. He didn’t lock anyone down on defense. I have the game saved on harddrive, and I will sit down with anyone who disagrees and ask them to explain why Kobe spends the second half standing outside the three-point line just watching. Watching. Not participating in the triangle. Not setting up his teammates. Just …watching.

Charles should have asked the same thing. Great players don’t have to score to be effective. There were times Larry Bird had to pull back and let McHale, Parish, and Cedric Maxwell carry the scoring load. But he didn’t just stand there twiddling his thumbs. He got involved. He hit the boards with a vengence. He created. Kobe has as much natural talent as anyone who has ever played, and he’s honed his skills to a level that amazes even me, his harshest critic. But there is no way to defend his inactivity in the second half of that game. He didn’t need to take 20 shots that half. He could have contributed in countless other ways. That, more than anything else, is why what he did was selfish and self-serving.

I don’t know what kind of voodoo mind control they used to shut Charles up. When the segment began, you could practically see Barkley quivering with anticipation. So what happened? Was he given orders not to aggressively question Kobe? Was he intimidated by Bryant? It doesn’t make any sense. Being so passive, even apologizing, that isn’t Barkley’s style. Never has been. But it was last night. And as a result, he left a lot of people shocked and let down. I wish I knew why. I doubt we’ll get any better of an answer to that question than we got about Kobe’s disappearing act against the Suns.

“Meow.”

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This year’s second most famous nutshot.

(Be Gay For A Day 25/5 2006 @ 15.00)

Avery Johnson has always been an excitable little guy, but never moreso than during his team’s exciting Game 7 showdown with the Spurs. How spazzed out was the tiny general? Well, let me put it this way: he unintentionally delivered a point blank nutshot to one of the Mavs’ bench jockeys during a last-minute substitution. It’s one thing to blatantly attack the genitals of your freakish, stringy-haired opponent. It’s an entirely different matter when you start nutmugging your own players. Take that, Reggie Evans.

Just watch it. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You may even mash your own testicles in order to historically recreate the moment. I know I did.

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Labels: Charles Barkley (Round Mound of Retort, Sir Charles) / Avery Johnson / Reggie Evans / Kobe Bryant / Kevin McHale / Larry BirdRobert Parish / Cedric Maxwell / Phil Jackson / San Antonio Spurs / Dallas Mavericks / Los Angeles Lakers / Phoenix Suns / Be Gay For A Day

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