Charles Barkley is a lot: a Basketball Hall of Famer, a former NBA MVP, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and, as he reminded everyone on TNT on Wednesday night, a big hockey fan.
Barkley has spoken of his fandom for the sport on several occasions, which he says began in the ’80s.
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As such, he’s been called upon to help christen TNT’s new hockey cover – and quickly had fun at the expense of the Hockey Hall of Fame and new studio analyst Wayne Gretzky. The duo opened up about Barkley’s hockey fandom, as Chuck warmly welcomed the team to the network.
When the conversation turned to physique and fighting in their respective sports, Barkley quickly changed his tone to take a few good-humored shots at Gretzky: ever since. It wasn’t Gretzky’s fighting ability, or the lack of it, that Barkley didn’t care about. It’s not even necessarily that Gretzky lost.
This is who he lost, and his hairstyle:
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Gretzky lost that fight to Neal Broten in a 1982 game between the Gretzky Oilers and the Broten North Stars (then based in Minnesota and now with the Dallas squad). Barkley was quick to point out Broten’s perm which, being the ’80s, wasn’t an entirely surprising look. Gretzky was a good player on it, acknowledging the humor of the situation and even adding some background information: he had just been honored as Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year earlier today and, while ‘he was in the penalty area, he looked and did the Very Canadian Thing, apologizing to American Broten.
Don’t worry though, as Gretzky finally had the final say against Barkley in Wednesday’s Rangers-Capitals game opening intermission on TNT.
He was teased during the pre-game festivities, but once the first intermission hit, Barkley got into the net and had to stop five shots from Gretzky. He chose not to use tampons and took an unconventional approach that ultimately paid off for Gretzky:
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The show was TNT’s premiere, and the Barkley and Gretzky tandem received rave reviews. Considering Barkley’s passion for hockey and being such an integral part of NBA network coverage, don’t be surprised to see Barkley back in NHL studios for a long time.