The Wild and Wacky World of Charles Barkley

Mark HauserCorrespondent IIFebruary 18, 2009

Charles Barkley returns to TNT this week after being arrested for a DUI and taking a leave of absence.  And for that, I am glad.  It is hard not to like someone as entertaining as Barkley.  I look forward to hearing what he will say at the halftime of TNT's NBA broadcasts—he is often funny and insightful. 

And, of course, I always enjoyed watching this extremely talented player perform.  (In case you are wondering—come on—I know you are, I ranked him the 20th greatest basketball player in history.)  However, he is definitely an enigma.

For example, he famously tells a reporter after hearing a question he did not like, "that is why I hate white people"; yet, his wife at the time was white (a beautiful blond, of course).  He calls the Washington Wizards "the dumbest team in the history of sports"; yet, claims to have been misquoted in his own autobiography. 

He make's a Nike commercial stating he is not a role model; yet, he knows that while this is true in a perfect world, in reality, he is, at the very least, a secondary role model for some kids (whether he should be or wants to be is another story).  He is often criticizing players' antiques on the court, yet, once spit at a fan during a game and accidentally hit a little girl.

His gambling, however, took all of this to a whole a new level.  He calls the Cavaliers' offensive strategy dumb, yet, the next day the Wynn Las Vegas Resort reports that he owes them $400,000 (four 100,000 casino markers or loans from October 2007).  He acknowledges owes the money, yet, he says the casino did not call him before filing the complaint (with the District Attorney's Office). 

"All they had to do is call and say, 'Hey, you owe us the money,'" he said.  Huh???  First of all, the Casino stated they have made repeated demands.  Secondly, aren't you aware you owe them the money?

Barkley admitted in 1986 in a ESPN interview that he had lost 10 million dollars in gambling over the years (apparently that number is larger now), yet, he does not "consider it a problem because I can afford to gamble."  He called it a bad habit, but said he intended to continue.

"I think it's fun, I think it's exciting", he said.  It may be exciting, but for the life of me, I do not see how losing over 10 million dollars is fun.  And if he can afford to gamble, why he has not repaid the Casino back nine months later?  I am pretty sure Barkley is an intelligent guy, but why does he think the rest of us are so dumb?