Charles Barkley has produced many moments of hilarity through 36 years of public life. But perhaps this foot race with Dick Bavetta tops them all.
Dick Bavetta is one of the longest-tenured referees in American sporting history. He’s refereed 2635 consecutive NBA games and been part of the league through the peaks of Kareem, Dr. J, Bird, Magic, Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, LeBron and even Steph!
Currently 81 years old, Bavetta holds a record for never missing a single game assigned to him through 39 years. He’s also officiated in contentious games like Game 6 of Kings vs Lakers in 2002.
Bavetta was also a marathon runner despite his advancing age in the noughties. But Barkley, only 7 years removed from retirement, thought he had it in him to beat the ref.
Chuck challenged the 67-year-old to a foot race through the length of a basketball court. Bavetta promptly accepted the bet for $5,000, and eventually TNT managed to make this a featured event of the 2007 NBA All-Star Weekend.
— Basketball HOF (@Hoophall) February 15, 2017
Chuck won the race comfortably – so easily, in fact, that he ran the final few feet backwards, tripped and backed into victory.
Why Charles Barkley kissed Dick Bavetta
Ernie Johnson and the Inside crew never fail to bring up this moment when there’s an opportunity. However, Ernie did reveal once that the referee did have a predisposition to kiss people he knew:
“Here’s the deal. If you know Dick Bavetta at all, you’ve probably been kissed by Dick Bavetta. I’ve been kissed by Dick Bavetta. He’s that kind of a guy. He comes up to you after he hasn’t seen you for a while and he gives you a kiss. No, that doesn’t surprise me at all.”
Chuck obviously loves the homosexual references that Shaq continues to make to this day, but he did clarify he thought that Bavetta would just kiss him like a friend. According to Chuck, lips and cheeks are the same when it comes to kissing a friend.