There are few people in the sports world as feisty and off the cuff as Turner Sports’ NBA and NCAA studio analyst Charles Barkley. The 17-year NBA legend continues to speak his mind on any and every topic, including his 1997 arrest following an altercation at an Orlando bar and the lack of regret he has for that night.
“You remember the night when I threw the guy through the window,” Barkley said on The Jim Rome Show Wednesday morning. “I told the judge, he said ‘Mr. Barkley, do you have any regrets?’ and I said, yeah, I regret we were on the first floor. Now everybody said Charles threw a little 5’ 7” guy through a window. I said, well, let me ask you a question. When he threw that drink on me, did he think he was going to grow by the time it got on my outfit?
“So this little guy throws his drink on me, and I chased his ass about twenty yards before I got him around his head, and threw him through one of those plate glass windows.”
The story was brought up in Barkley’s reaction of Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin’s fight with the team’s assistant equipment manager back in February, in which Griffin fractured his right hand. Barkley was asked if a man Griffin’s size should ever punch another person half his size.
“Listen, the reason I don’t know, because I don’t know what that guy said to Blake. He might be a little guy, but a little guy can say something to you. I’m not a firm believer of words can’t hurt you. Yeah, sometimes words can hurt you.”
Nearly twenty years later from Barkley’s incident at that Orlando bar, the former forward said the result would be similar if someone threw a drink in his face today.
“I don’t know if I could catch him, but I would definitely run him through a window,” Barkley said. “I don’t worry about what everybody thinks about me. Anybody sitting out there listening to your show, you can’t just let a random stranger just throw a drink in your face and say, you know what, I’m in the limelight, I should just let that go. That’s never going to happen. If I’m sitting around with you one night, and somebody threw a drink on me and you, we going to beat their ass down, I promise you that.”
The Hall of Famer also said that Griffin’s fight shouldn’t be viewed much more than a fist fight amongst good friends.
“I felt bad because he hurt his hand and hurt his team,” Barkley said but added: “I’ve been in the NBA for over thirty years I’ve seen thirty fights between teammates. I’ve probably seen ten to fifteen fights between coaches and players. People get mad, man. It’s intense. It’s a lot of stuff that goes on in these games. I don’t ever overreact. Blake was obviously wrong, but it was two friends got to fighting. That happens all the time. I’ve been out a couple times with my friends and we got into a shoving match, I don’t think that was a big deal. But I think people just overreact in this news cycle today, we live in a twenty-four-seven news cycle, and anytime you do anything today, it’s going to be big news. It’s just the way it is.”
Barkley will spend the next few weeks working as a studio analyst for the NCAA’s March Madness coverage. With LSU’s Ben Simmons as a near-lock to be the first overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Barkley said he’d be wary if he was a general manager considering Simmons, especially considering his only season in Baton Rouge has been anything but perfect with him struggling academically and failing to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
“I just think the way he’s handled the entire situation sends up red flags to me,” Barkley said of Simmons’ academic problems. “I don’t even know if you have to keep it together for six months. I think these guys just go to class the first quarter or semester, then by the time they get their grades the second time, the season is over. If you can’t keep your crap together for six months, you make me nervous before I start giving you millions of dollars.”
Barkley said the NBA is the worst it’s ever been and adding inexperienced and undeveloped freshman hurt the brand even worse.
“Even the kid at Duke, [Brandon] Ingram, first he’s got to gain probably 20-30 pounds before he’s going to make a difference in the NBA, but there’s not one single player that I’ve seen this year who’s a freshman, who should come to the NBA. First of all, if you can’t dominate college, you shouldn’t be thinking about coming to the NBA playing against grown men,” Barkley said. “In my perfect world, we’d keep kids in college for at least two years, and my point would be you’re going to be a lot better, bigger and stronger if you stay in college for two years instead of six months. You’re not going to gain 20-30 pounds of muscle and learn to get physical in six months, but I think you can gain a lot of weight in muscle and learn how to play in two years. That’s my point.
“There’s a huge difference between six months and two years. You’re going to get bigger you’re going to get stronger and when you get to the NBA you will hit the ground running instead of being a project.”