There’s only one tradition more synonymous with the start of the NCAA tournament than the hunt to find TruTV.
It’s Charles Barkley inadvertently revealing that he hasn’t paid attention to college basketball for the previous 49 weeks.
Barkley outed himself yet again on Thursday night during halftime of Drake’s 53-52 First Four victory over Wichita State. When colleague Andy Katz referenced Wichita State’s firing of Gregg Marshall last November, Barkley interjected with an uninformed defense of the scandal-tainted coach.
The soliloquy started with Barkley lamenting that “times have changed in sports” and that “players have a lot more power” as a result of their social media presence. Barkley went on to declare himself, “a big Gregg Marshall fan” while also acknowledging, “I don’t know all the parameters of what happened.”
The parameters of what happened, of course, were damning allegations of verbal and physical abuse. revealed that Marshall allegedly punched a player in the head, choked an assistant coach and demeaned members of the program with racial and ethnic slurs.
In response to the allegations, Wichita State in October hired a law firm to conduct an internal investigation into Marshall’s conduct. A month later, the school paid $7.75 million to part ways with its winningest coach, a man who had led the Shockers to eight NCAA tournament bids and a Final Four appearance.
While the scandal that took down Marshall was one of the biggest stories in college basketball last offseason, CBS/Turner aren’t making Barkley the face of their NCAA tournament studio shows because of his knowledge of the American Athletic Conference. He’s there for the same reason he is on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” show — to stir controversy, to crack jokes and to appeal to the common fan.
The price of Barkley’s entertainment value is that he is hardly the most informed analyst.
That’s a weakness that only becomes more glaring when he’s asked to provide commentary on Wichita State-Drake instead of Lakers-Warriors.
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