Sports

Charles Barkley’s E.J. Liddell rant misses his own hypocrisy

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Charles, me lad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Charles Barkley this week issued an angry, accurate and noble rant about the anonymous, antisocial evil perpetrated by techno-vandals armed with what has been misnamed “social media.” After Ohio State’s calamitous first-round loss to Oral Roberts, OSU star E.J. Liddell was subjected to threats, vile defamations and ugly, vulgar abuses as typed and sent by ostensible Buckeyes “fans.”

(“Fans” and “social media” both now warrant quotation marks.)

Barkley: “For you to give this kid death threats and hurl racial slurs because you’re safe in your own home like a coward behind a computer, and nobody knows who you are.

“You need to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror. I’m never going to dignify these losers and interact with them, ever.

“I don’t care how much money somebody offers me, I’m never going to do social media because of this.”

In spite of Barkley’s past as the paid commercial endorser of just about anything — even if the endorsement betrays his personal history and conduct — to Barkley’s spew I declare, “Right on!”

But again, he hasn’t yet or even considered that the worst is yet to come. And in Barkley’s case he has failed to connect his own dots.

With legalized, bad-odds, young sucker-targeting sports gambling now the national pastime and hopeful fresh income revenue for media and the sports authorities who eagerly trade their credibility and morality for a cut of the house — and fans losing their money is what these businesses are predicated upon — the growth of such abhorrent social media responses is guaranteed, in gambling terms, a lock.

There is no doubt that at least some of the ugliest responses to OSU’s loss — any team’s loss or failure to cover — were from gamblers, those who bet on OSU as a heavy favorite and/or those, with the urging of media to invest money on NCAA brackets. OSU, as the Exhibit A of this year’s national first-game brackets bummer, inspired bad losers to do their worst.

To that end, Barkley was among the first celebrity TV endorsers of the newly liberated sports gambling enterprises via TV commercials, appearing in TV ads to appeal to young, naive seekers of easy fortunes by gambling with FanDuel.

And for his well-placed righteous indignation following the untreated but not unexpected waste thrown at Liddell, Barkley’s own declaration that he can’t be bought, Barkley signed on to appear in those FanDuel commercials despite his acknowledgment of being a problem gambler — read: big loser — once chased by a Vegas casino for nonpayment of a $400,000 gambling debt.

Fox Sports’ regional networks, those now majority owned by Sinclair broadcasting, have made a bailout deal with Bally’s gambling operations. The Padres will now appear on a “Bally’s Sports” network.

The new star of the PGA Tour, Bryson DeChambeau, now appears with a DraftKings logo stitched to his cap as the PGA, in exchange for its full support and wishes for increased TV ratings and revenue, urges “fans,” old and new, to wager on per tournament and/or per-round performances of its individual players.

As already noted here, why, if not from gamblers, did the popular, friendly Jason Day suffer intense uncivilized Twitter heat from golf “fans” after withdrawing from a tournament with a bad back?

So unless Barkley feels as if those who trashed Liddell had zero gambling stake in Ohio State’s “impossible” loss to Oral Roberts (or even to “Promo Code Evan” Roberts), Charles Barkley should also give the mirror a long look.

After all, except in the indulged reality of flat-world, part-time, fully paid NBA star Kyrie Irving, what goes around comes around.

Dolan doesn’t personally ‘own’ publicly traded company

Despite what a Madison Square Garden usher politely explained to a patron who was removed from a Knicks game for wearing a “Ban Dolan” shirt, James Dolan does not “own the Garden” and it is not a “private” venue.

The Garden is part of a publicly owned company, Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

Dolan owns 21 percent of the Garden. His muscle comes in the form of a highest-status stock ownership with 71 percent voting rights. But despite his imperious behavior he does not — repeat, does not — own the Garden and/or its teams.


There are two Division I college basketball coaches who seem to relish running up the score, stomping opponents beyond humiliation with their schools’ blessings. Both are women’s coaches: UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey.

Sunday on ABC/ESPN, Baylor needlessly blasted Jackson State, 101-52. Running down the clock was never a consideration, as the Baptist college scored 50 points in the second half.

Naturally, the announcers, Beth Mowins and Renee Montgomery — the latter played for Auriemma — played along like desensitized adolescents, excited to see if Baylor would reach 100 points. Pathetic but predictable.


Those who recall how Elgin Baylor played offense see his inside and near-outside game that made him beyond special. His game was imbued with magical mystery, as you never knew what he’d conjure from within tight spaces against flabbergasted defenders.

Consider what Baylor’s presence would mean to a new-age NBA that includes 80 bombs-away 3-point attempts per game? I’d suggest he’d be a bit player, at best.

Which slight is worse?

It still strikes me that Creighton coach Greg McDermott chose the wrong metaphor when he struck racial nerves by imploring his players to, “Stay on the plantation.” I’d never before heard that expression.

I sense he wanted to say the more common, “Stay on the reservation,” one that would have been a slight to Native Americans and one worthy of an apology but not rising to the level of selective outrage that led to his suspension in addition to an apology.


NBC analyst Jim “Bones” Mackay, Phil Mickelson’s estranged caddy, Sunday spoke with the kind of frank clarity that seems to have been banned on PGA telecasts.

Golf
Jim “Bones” Mackay
Getty Images

With J.B. Holmes, en route to a 79, about to hit an iron from the rough on 14, Mackay: “Considering how long these guys had to wait for the green to clear, it’s just shocking to me that J.B. didn’t have his club pulled.”


That didn’t take long: ESPN dialect chameleon Stephen A. “Slapshot” Smith interviewed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman this week. Smith’s and ESPN’s sudden, transparent interest in the NHL follows a deal struck between ESPN and the NHL.


If these CBS and Turner NCAA Tournament voices are so word-slick, why hasn’t “punched their ticket” become “scan their ticket”?


Given what’s heard on TV and not among those playing golf, it remains odd that pro golfers continue to play balls that “find the water.”


I wonder what Kyrie Irving does during the offseason.

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