Basketball great Charles Barkley calls NBA finals dull and boring

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 12:56am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 12:56am

Everyone thinks it. Everyone knows it. But Charles Barkley is saying it. Repeatedly.

The first two games of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have been a TV ratings success, but, continuing a trend this postseason, they haven’t been competitive.

Viewers may not be tuning out, but Barkley, the “NBA on TNT” analyst, has admitted that they’ve been “really, really awful” and has talked openly and often about watching NHL play-off games instead this spring. He even turned up during Predators-Penguins Game 4 on NBC earlier this week to drive home his point, saying, “I’m just glad to be here because the NBA playoffs have not been great, but the Stanley Cup play-offs have been amazing.”

Normally, that’s the kind of talk that can hasten the end of a broadcasting career, but TNT and the NBA might even be secretly pleased. Barkley may be critical, but he’s entertaining and, at least for now, refreshing. And if a day comes when his bosses are less tolerant, he isn’t worried.

“Well, I make a lot of money so they can’t fire me,” he told reporters in a conference call Tuesday for the American Century Championship golf tournament. “Man, listen, everybody wants you to tell the truth unless they don’t agree with you. . . . The Cavaliers and Warriors only lost one game [between them, through the first three rounds]. That’s not competitive. I don’t really worry too much about my bosses worrying about me telling the truth. Our NBA playoffs have not been good. I hope I do get fired because they still have to pay me.”

His truth bombs are so good, he might even get a raise. Or perhaps a fruit basket from NBA headquarters for drawing more attention to the Finals. Truth is truth.

“I wish we had better NBA story lines,” he added. “But we have not had any NBA story lines.”

Besides, Barkley has long been a hockey fan, dating from the World Hockey Association’s entry in his home state of Alabama, to his days in Philadelphia, when he became friendly with the Flyers’ Eric Lindros.

“I think we showed a stat we’ve only had four basketball games in the play-offs that were less than double digits [in final scoring margin],” Barkley said. “So it’s not been a lot of fun broadcasting games this year.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver can’t help but notice and his spin is that “we should celebrate excellence,” even if it means an absence of competition.

“From a league standpoint, you always want to see great competition,” he said before Game 1 of the Finals. “It’s what our fans want to see, it’s what we provide in this league. But having said that, this is real life. It’s not scripted, and it happens. So, sure, the fan in me would love to see more competition at times, but on the other hand, I’ve said it before, I think we should also celebrate excellence.

“I think that people are also inspired, as I said earlier, by seeing such tremendous play, by seeing teams come together the way they have. I think their play has been inspiring. I think they have done it in the right way, and I also think these things have a way of working themselves out.”