Charles Barkley doesn’t always explain his positions — he just takes them. That worked in rebounding (Barkley is one of the best rebounders in NBA history) but it’s a less sound strategy in his job as a commentator. Barkley often says things others can’t figure out — but his failure to be impressed by a Boston Celtics team that has won 14 straight games is a new level of what we call “Inscrutable Chuck.” With the Celts down at halftime against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, Barkley seemed mystified. “I don’t know how they won all these games,” he said of the Celtics. “They’re not that good,” Barkley said, as if the games and victories weren’t enough evidence of high quality play.
Barkley said the Celtics, presently way atop the Eastern Conference standings, “won’t be the favorite.” Barkley said not only would the Cavaliers beat Boston, but so would Washington and Toronto, which drew a chuckle from fellow commentator Shaquille O’Neal. To Barkley’s claim that the Celtics couldn’t beat the Raptors, more than one astute Twitter user said “they just did.” No surprise there — the Celts are beating everybody (including the Warriors, 92-88) on a 14-o streak. Nevertheless Barkley says last year’s Celtics were better. Barkley is right in that the Celtics didn’t play their best — they shot 33% — but he’s wrong in that the Celtics still won, as they almost always do in 2017-18. That’s why they keep score, right? Maybe it’s that Barkley’s harboring an old grudge against the Celtics GM Danny Ainge. 25 years ago Barkley gave up some of his salary so the Suns could sign Danny Ainge and win a championship. The Barkley-Ainge powered Suns fell short in the NBA Finals against Michael Jordan‘s Bulls. It sounds like Charles must still be mad at Ainge.