Tonight the Houston Rockets hosted the Los Angeles Clippers in what appeared to be a make-or-break game for the Rockets, who already had a 2-game deficit in the Western Conference standings. The Clippers were also in a dogfight with the Utah Jazz for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. In the first quarter, the Rockets got off to a great start against the lowly Clippers, going up by 11 points. However, in the fourth quarter, the Rockets had the ball with 2.4 seconds remaining, and they had failed to score a field goal in the final six minutes. It seemed as if the Rockets were doomed to fall short again, but the Clippers had other ideas.
After the Houston Rockets lost Game Five of the Western Conference Semi-Finals, they were down 3-2 in the series and had to win three straight games to force a Game Seven. Then the Rockets landed Charles Barkley, a man who was once the best player in the league, but was now a washed up has-been who relied on talking trash to keep his job. So, did he do the job?
While not the most family-friendly aspect of professional sports, friction is an unavoidable reality of competition. When a group of athletes are competing for supremacy, it is natural that they will do anything to steal any advantage. Take, for example, the past performance of Charles Barkley.
In December 1996, the Houston Rockets were leading by a small margin in the final seconds of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves when Chris Carr stepped to the free throw line to tie the game. Barkley, however, intervened and uttered a few vulgar phrases to save the day.
What a great performance by Charles Barkley and Peyton Manning on the MNF Megacast – they were too early this year to discuss the Auburn-Tennessee relationship! pic.twitter.com/FInjxFBHhg
– Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) September 22, 2020
These days, Charles Barkley has found a second career as an analyst at TNT Inside the NBA. But no matter where he works, nothing stops Chuck from being himself and speaking his mind.
Barkley has never been shy about saying many things while playing on the field. In one infamous instance, he said God wanted the Phoenix Suns to win the NBA championship. Of course, a man named Michael Jordan provided the opposite and brought the title back to Chicago. Sir Charles was also known to be critical of referees. He has already been fined for admitting to taking bets during a match, showing the world that he is not a role model.
Even when he’s retired, Sir Charles can’t keep his mouth shut. On the golf course, he had the courage to talk to Tiger Woods. In the TNT studio, the former striker got into an altercation with Shaquille O’Neal, mocked losing teams and made a lot of bold statements.
No matter what you think of Chuck, you’ll never get anything but 100% authenticity.
Charles Barkley in action during a game of the Houston Rockets. | Robert Sullivan / AFP via Getty Images
There were a few moments when Barkley made rude comments, but his war of words paid off in at least one case. On the 10th. In December 1996, his efforts led the Houston Rockets to victory.
In the closing seconds of that game, the Rockets led 96-94 when Minnesota’s Chris Carr went to the free throw line to send the game into extension. But before he could take his first shot, Barkley had some kind words for the defender.
At the moment of truth, Carr’s throw is short and just hits the leading edge. From his position on the block, Barkley threw his hands in the air to celebrate. At the final buzzer, Houston held on and won by two points.
In his post-game interview, Barkley recounted what he said to Carr before his first free throw. I told him you can’t stick a jackhammer in his ass, Chuck says (H/T Rob Perez). He was a little stiff on this one. If the net hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have hit anything.
Whatever it takes to win.
Given the course of the last series, it’s easy to draw a straight line between Barkley’s foul trouble and Carr’s mistake. In reality, the defender wouldn’t have needed much help to miss the foul.
Although Carr has never played in the NBA, meaning his shooting percentages may be skewed by small sample sizes, he has made just 80.7% of his free throws in his professional career. In college, his performance was even worse, at just over 76%.
Combine poor shooting and the pressure of the situation – Carr was only a sophomore in the NBA at the time and wasn’t getting significant minutes – and it’s entirely possible he wouldn’t have made it even without Sir Charles’ help. But Barkley staring at you and visibly reminding you of your nerves probably didn’t help.
Statistics provided by Basketball-Reference and Sports-Reference
COMPARED TO: Charles Barkley says he’s not a role model, but he has no problem using his $50 million fortune to help others
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