Charles Barkley is a former basketball player, an NBA Hall of Famer, and an NBA analyst on TNT. It seems odd, but the NHL playoffs have ostensibly been distracting him from his job. He has also given his input on air about the dullness of the NBA playoffs and, on the flip side, the intensity of the NHL playoffs.
Barkley’s comments led NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to invite him to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins, which Nashville won 4-1 in front of their boisterous home crowd. (I’ve been to a Predators game in Nashville before. The atmosphere is unlike anything you’ll ever experience at a sporting event.)
While analyzing the Western Conference semifinal — which ended in another sweep by the Golden State Warriors – Barkley said “Thank God for the NHL playoffs, that’s what I’ve been watching in the back.”
Well, Sir Charles took that knock to this season’s NBA playoffs a step further Monday night while on air during NBC’s intermission coverage of Nashville’s [Stanley Cup Final game against the Pittsburgh Penguins].
“I’m just glad to be here because the NBA playoffs have not been great, but the Stanley Cup playoffs have been amazing,” Barkley said.
And as for reprimand from the NBA, the league Barkley is paid to talk about as a prominent figure on the “NBA on TNT” crew, he’s not sweating it.
“First of all, they can’t fire me,” Barkley said. “Well, they can, but then they’ve got to pay me. That’s why I signed a long-term deal.”
There’s no question that the NBA playoffs have been boring as hell. People know it’s true; they just don’t want to admit it. Aside from the first round Clippers/Jazz series that lasted seven games, almost every other series was as entertaining as listening to someone read the phone book. This includes the later round games as well as the NBA Finals which are still in progress.
The two teams in the Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, were a combined 24-1 in the postseason’s first three rounds. Golden State leads the best-of-seven series 2-0, with both of their wins ending in blowout fashion at home. Beginning tonight, the series shifts to Cleveland for two games, with many wondering if the Cavs can even win a single game, let alone the series. The Warriors have wiped the floor with them, even though the Cavs were wiping the floor with every team they had played up until this point.
On the other hand, this NHL postseason has shown to be consistently exciting. Yes, the Penguins are in the Cup Final for the second consecutive year, but this marks the Predators’ first appearance. In the first around alone, the teams collectively played 18 overtime games—a new record for the first round. In total there have been 27 overtime games so far—one shy of tying the all-time record set in 1993.
Meanwhile, the Warriors and Cavs are meeting in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year. This is also LeBron James’ seventh consecutive NBA Finals appearance. The Warriors haven’t even lost a playoff game yet, and 47 of the 76 playoff games so far have ended in a double-digit victory. Barkley is right: This year’s NBA playoffs may stink, but nothing beats playoff hockey.