Charles Barkley has been the life and soul of Inside the NBA for 21 seasons now. We look back at his very first studio outing on a full-time contract.
Barkley had cultivated a very different image for himself during his playing days from that of Michael Jordan. He’d always been viewed as a jokester and a clown – someone who doesn’t take himself or others too seriously.
This is the very man who refused to adhere to societal norms and behave like a so-called ‘role model’. Barkley gave the following explanation for his words in an iconic Nike commercial on this very idea:
“I am not a role model. I’m not paid to be a role model. I’m paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”
This is a very powerful and divisive message which gave more power back into the hands of players. Barkley’s stances on issues like this allowed his successors like Allen Iverson to come in and be more expressive.
It’s funny how Barkley refuses to pose like a role model to children but he still acts like the embodiment of a grown man – a successful, powerful one who’s comfortable with his image. It’s this ability of his to take jokes at his expense that makes him perfect for television.
When Charles Barkley gave an amazing clap-back to a NY Post reader in his first TNT episode
Chuck was already quite well-known as a man who could have a future on television. His charisma and approach to talking to people off the court helped cement this image.
It is befitting that he took less than a minute into his first appearance as a full-time analyst on Inside the NBA to roast those alongside him, as well as some NBA fans who threw strays his way.
Ernie introduced him with his characteristic poise and started Chuck’s sportscasting career off with a bang. He read out a piece of mail from a reader of the New York Post. This mail said:
“How screwed up is this world? Ask Charles Barkley, looking very much like Richard Jewell’s body double these days.”
It was a pretty neat joke – although a stray shot at a man who went through undeserved trials and tribulations. But Chuck had the perfect clap back for the reader, you can see in the video above:
“I’m gaining weight, but I can lose weight. You’re always going to be ugly.”
This set the tone for the rest of opening night 2000, as well as for the rest of Chuck’s studio career with TNT.