Charles Barkley is the gift that keeps on giving. The Sixers legend’s bombastic television persona as one of sports’ most anomalous analysts is buoyed by the giving, open-hearted personality he also displays, whether on the tube or in person.
That unique mixture of in-your-face and gentle giant is the formula that many find irresistible and polarizing all the same.
While Barkley’s sport of expertise is hoops, you could say his golf game and that bizarre swing follows him like a sad puppy.
Although unsurprisingly, playing the game that is “a good walk spoiled” with Barkley is possibly the most fun many have ever had, let alone on the golf course.
In a fun piece by Jayson Jenks of The Athletic, the writer gets first-person accounts of what it’s like being in Barkley’s foursome and why, in the words of former NBA vetaran Dan Majerle, “He’d be our ATM sometimes.”
Wayne Gretzky, Emmitt Smith, Jerome Bettis and others all recall story after story of the nuance and enjoyment of hitting the links with the Cricso Kid.
The unfiltered commentary of these notable names really gives the article an authentic feel as you absorb and imagine the hilarity of these interactions as they bust Barkley’s chops about his play and he gives it right back, all in good fun.
My favorite anecdote doesn’t involve any humor at all, but reflects the benevolent soul so many laud Barkley for:
“Sara Deeter, HR specialist: It was 27 years ago. I was 15, and I absolutely loved him. We found out he was going at be at this tournament in Horsham, Pa., which is down near Philly. I made a sign because I was a stupid 15-year-old girl. I think it said, “Sir Charles, you’re No. 1. I hope you get a hole in one.” … We just walked around and followed him. He saw my sign while he was playing and waved to me. And then, I think it was after the ninth hole, they had a refreshment tent set up. He was in there and he saw that I was standing out there. I saw him talking to a security guard and the security guard came over and got me and brought me in. He was my idol. I just adored him. So of course I started crying. He said, “Why are you crying?” And I said I was so excited to meet him. He gave me a big hug and asked who I was there with, if I was having a good time, gave me a drink, signed my shirt. It was just crazy.”
No one is just one thing. So whether his unapologetic political views or audacious hoops-takes rub you the wrong way, you can’t deny the grace and compassion of the Round Mound of Rebound.