They teased his weight. They teased his ability to read a green. And he gave it right back.
Charles Barkley, during The Match: Champions for Change, hit his tee shot well short on the par-3 6th hole at the Stone Canyon Club in Arizona. He hit a second tee shot, from much closer, also short. He and partner Phil Mickelson eventually walked off the green having halved the hole in the match against Steph Curry and Peyton Manning.
Shots were also fired in between.
Friday, you came for the golf. That was the format. But you stayed for the grief, both given and taken. That’s Barkley. And when Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, Barkley’s announce partners on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” joined the broadcast for a hole, it was gold.
“Hey, Shaq, when you’re out of breath walking to your ball, you know it’s a bad sign,” Smith said as Barkley walked to the second tee box.
“Hey, it’s the offseason,” Barkley said.
Mickelson, as he did during the golf, helped Barkley here, too. He had a dozen balls made with O’Neal’s face on them.
“I’m tired of your colleagues disrespecting you,” he said. “I had balls made with Shaq’s face on them. Knock a Shaq ball in the hole.”
“That’s the ugliest ball in the world, right here,” Barkley said.
The Barkley banter would go tee to green.
“Charles, if you can’t read words, how can you read the greens?” O’Neal said.
“Don’t listen to them. You got to quiet your mind,” Mickelson told Barkley.
Barkley would have the last laugh. He and Mickelson won the third installment of The Match 4 and 3. Barkley would also have a lot of laughs, some at his expense, some at others. Here are six more of the best.
Law and Order
One hole after the 6th, Barkley and Mickelson went 4-up. The show might end early. But, this being television, the shows must go on.
“Hey, can I get B.A. in my ear,” Barkley said as he walked off the green, referring to the broadcast’s play-by-play announcer, Brian Anderson.
“Go ahead, Charles. B.A. is in your ear,” Anderson said.
“Hey do me a favor. Call Jeff Zucker and Craig Barry and tell them to get some of those Law and Order reruns ready in about five more holes,” Barkley said, referring to two television executives.
Barkley was listed as a 25 handicap during the broadcast. Mickelson, a five-time major champion, a plus-five. And when Mickelson was facing a 6-footer for birdie on the 2nd hole, Barkley was yards away.
“Charles, you going to oblige with a putt read here for Lefty, or are you going to stand off to the side?” Anderson said.
“All right, listen, you got to know your limitations, B.A.,” Barkley said. “That’s one of the keys to being successful in life.”
As Barkley walked to the third shot on the 4th hole, the broadcast showed an encouraging tweet to Barkley from Gary Player, the 85-year-old nine-time major champion.
“One of the highlights of my life was getting the chance to meet Gary Player like about six weeks ago,” Barkley said when told about the tweet. “It was one of the highlights of my life. I always wanted to meet him, played a great round of golf, and it was an honor and a privilege.”
“Have you ever met anyone with more energy and enthusiasm than Gary Player?” Trevor Immelman, one of the broadcast’s announcers, asked.
“I tell you what: He made me feel bad about being fat, though.”
On the 7th hole, Andre Iguodala, another one of the broadcast’s announcers, asked Barkley about his gear.
“Charles, you got the most expensive clubs on the market. Are they working for you?”
“Listen, I tell you what, PXG’s been great to me, Callaway’s been great to me,” Barkley said. “So I want to thank both of those. I’m going to play a Bridgestone ball. But Phil has to play this Callaway thing, and it’s pretty good, but shout out to Bridgestone, Callaway and PXG.”
“Shout out to all the free stuff, I hear you, Charles.” Iguodala said.
“Hey, listen, that’s the best part about being rich and famous, all the free stuff you get, you know that,” Barkley said.
“Yes, yes,” Iguodala said
“Hey, when I was poor, they didn’t send me anything,” Barkley said.
Mickelson would ask Barkley for help on a read on the 5th green.
“That ball was softly coming this way, was it not?”
“He don’t remember,” Curry said.
‘Never mind. Never mind. I don’t know what I was thinking,” Mickelson said.
“Good gap between Charles and Bones here,” Manning said, referring to Mickelson’s longtime former caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay.
“That’s a lot of money”
While walking to his second shot on the 3rd hole, Barkley was shown another encouraging tweet to Barkley, this one from the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum.
“Jayson Tatum’s got your back, Charles,” Anderson said. “Said you’ve been working on your game. Looking good.”
“I want Jayson Tatum. He have no competition down in the bubble. He had Steve Smith and C-Webb. That’s no competition,” Barkley said referring to the NBA’s recently completed bubble season in Florida, along with two analysts, Smith and Chris Webber.
“I want Jayson Tatum. Oh and first of all, he just got all that money, too. Ooh, that’s a lot of money, Jayson Tatum,” referring to Tatum’s recent five-year, $195 million extension.