Charles Barkley is waging war with Golden State fans, and he’s losing.
After the eighth-seeded Warriors upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the series opener, Barkley predicted the Mavs would win next four games to take the series. But after a loss Sunday night to the Warriors, the choking Mavs are on the brink of elimination, trailing the series 3-1. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Dallas.
Anti-Barkley signs were scattered throughout Oracle Arena the last two games. At halftime of Sunday night’s game, Barkley appeared wearing a Dirk Nowitzki jersey and loaded with an arsenal of barbs.
“They declared war on the Chuckster and until you make right by me nothing good will happen to you …I love Baron Davis, Don Nelson, Chris Mullin … but Oakland as a city sucks. (To studio host Ernie Johnson) you like Oakland?”
Johnson: “I love the Bay area.
Barkley: “It’s not an area, I said Oakland. You said San Francisco. Just for the record I don’t like San Francisco, either. You know how bad it is? I like Sacramento better than those two cities.”
Johnson: “Good luck getting that jersey off, it looks like you painted it on.”
After the game, Barkley reiterated his distaste for the Bay Area. “The Bay Area sucks, I would rather stay in Alcatraz than San Francisco or Oakland. But I will admit this about the Warriors, they are fun to watch.”
Added analyst Kenny Smith: “Too little too late, Chuck.”
By the way, Barkley blames the Kings for TNT’s ratings slump this season. In the key demo men 18 to 49, TNT is down 22 percent as compared to last year. “For some reason TNT felt like we had an obligation to show the Sacramento Kings every two weeks,” Barkley told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Everybody wants to say all these teams are great. That’s not true. A lot of these teams stink.”
NFL sleepfest: I could make it through only a couple of hours of the NFL’s version of C-SPAN, the NFL draft on Saturday. How much of Mel Kiper Jr. can you take? Do teams really need 15 minutes between first-round picks? Some of the best comments were from Tony Kornheiser about overhyped Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, who slipped to the 22nd spot. After a nervous Quinn loosened his tie while waiting to be drafted, Kornheiser predicted he would be naked if he weren’t taken by No. 15. After doing numerous interviews in the holding room while he waited to be drafted, Quinn eventually moved to a private room. Kornheiser noted that was a good move before Quinn became “a car wreck. … You almost want to turn away.”
The best comedy bit was Will Ferrell’s piece with USC lineman propect Ryan Kalil on the NFL Network’s predraft show. Ferrell played “Chuck Berry,” a USC “auxiliary strength and conditioning coach,” who trained Kalil using unconventional methods. The five-minute bit included testimonials about Berry, who wears short, skintight gym shorts, from coach Pete Carroll and former quarterback Matt Leinart. It’s posted on youtube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHkAdusbwuA
The Ref radio network will change its programming lineup on Monday, dropping the syndicated Jim Rome Show and adding Rusty Olson, a longtime producer and part-time announcer for the Sports Animal radio network.
T.J. Perry, program director for The Ref, which includes Norman’s KREF-AM 1400, said the network decided to go with an all-local lineup weekdays. Rome’s show still airs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Oklahoma City on KEBC-AM 1340.
Olson, 39, a huge Oakland Raiders fan who grew up in Palo Alto, Calif., said he is excited about getting his own show, which will air 2-5 p.m. “This is a lifelong dream come true,” he said.
After graduating from OU in 2001 with a journalism degree, Olson joined the Sports Animal. He worked in a variety of capacities, including doing sports reports on Rick and Brad’s morning show on the KATT-FM 100.5 the past six months. “The last six years at the Animal have been great,” he said.
Myron Patton, who had been on 2-5 p.m., will move to 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to replace Rome.
Bosworth remembered as draft bust: Who is the biggest Draft Bust in NFL history? The NFL Network’s new series, “NFL’s Top 10” tackles the subject at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The 60-minute show features interviews with players and coaches including Heath Shuler, former OU linebacker Brian Bosworth, Jerry Glanville and Art Schlichter.
In chronological order, here are the top 10 draft busts on NFL Network’s list:
Art Schlichter — 4th overall in 1982: Baltimore Colts.
Brian Bosworth — Seattle Seahawks top pick in 1987 Supplemental Draft.
Aundray Bruce — 1st overall in 1988: Atlanta Falcons.
Tony Mandarich — 2nd overall in 1989: Green Bay Packers.
Andre Ware and David Klinger — Ware 7th overall in 1990: Detroit Lions – Klingler 6th overall in 1992: Cincinnati Bengals.
Rick Mirer — 2nd overall in 1993: Seattle Seahawks.
Heath Shuler — 3rd overall in 1994: Washington Redskins.
Lawrence Phillips — 6th overall in 1996: St. Louis Rams.
Ryan Leaf — 2nd overall in 1998: San Diego Chargers.
Tim Couch — 1st overall in 1999: Cleveland Browns.
TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley, known for his strong opinions, second-guessed Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson for going with a small lineup in the Mavs’ 97-85 loss to Golden State in the opener of the first-round playoff series Sunday night in Dallas.
“I’m disappointed in Dallas for changing their starting lineup,” Barkley said at halftime. “They have the best record in the NBA and they changed their lineup to go small against these guys. When you’ve got the best record, you don’t change up to go against the worst team in the playoffs. You can get every offensive rebound, and on defense it’s very simple. Keep them in front of you and force them to shoot jump shots.
“If you’re a big man, you’re foaming at the mouth to play against Golden State. You’re going to get lay-ups and offensive rebounds all night since they got all those midgets out there. What’s my rule? Keep paint under your feet because they are going to switch everything and double everything. All teams that do that have one thing in common, they can’t play defense.”
The series continues with Game 2 at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on TNT.
Barkley, by the way, paid tribute to Hornets center Tyson Chandler in his regular-season awards, naming him co-most improved player of the year along with Nets forward/center Miki Moore.
On the Spurs-Nuggets telecast Sunday night, Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins joked about Harlan’s Kansas ties during the Spurs-Nuggets telecast Saturday night. Said Harlan about fellow KU alum and Spurs guard Jacque Vaughn: “This is defense he learned at the University of Kansas.” Responded Collins: “I was waiting for that shameless promo, we’ve had enough promos tonight without promoting the Jayhawks.”
TNT studio analyst Magic Johnson, who predicted the Nuggets might upset the Spurs in the series, looked like a prophet after the Nuggets’ 95-89 victory in Game 1. Johnson said, “They (the Nuggets) are more mature, Carmelo (Anthony) understands what’s at stake. They are running Nene at Tim Duncan and then (Marcus) Camby at Tim Duncan and then even (Eduardo) Najera to play him. They have enough guys to beat him up and play physical and who can still score. This is not the same San Antonio Championship team. Denver is a little quicker then San Antonio this year.”
FSN Southwest spotlights Sooners: If you missed FSN Southwest’s half-hour installment on OU as part of its Big 12 Spring Football Tour, you have several times to catch it again this week: 10 p.m. Tuesday, 10 p.m. Thursday and 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The theme of this year’s series is Turning Points with each show featuring a segment highlighting the biggest play of 2006 as selected by the coach. The OU episode includes highlights from the Red-White game, interviews with coaches and players and a 2007 season preview. The Turning Point focuses on quarterback Paul Thompson’s 35-yard, third-down completion from his own 1-yard line to freshman tight end Jermaine Gresham in the Big 12 Championship against Nebraska. Oklahoma State will be featured at 10 p.m. May 8.
NBC hires Weisman to produce studio show: Michael Weisman has been named to head production for NBC’s “Football Night in America” pregame show. Weisman, winner of 22 Emmy Awards, promises to make the show more fun. He faces a challenge in trying to split up air time for his team that includes Bob Costas (host), Cris Collinsworth (co-host), Keith Olbermann (co-host), Jerome Bettis (analyst), Tiki Barber (analyst) and Peter King (reporter).