There will be no heavyweight bout between NBA star and former NBA star turned TV analyst — or at least not because of the ill-conceived barbs Tuesday night between Charles Barkley and Draymond Green.
After Barkley said on-air that he wanted “to punch him in the face so bad,” referring to Green, with whom the Hall of Famer has a fair bit of history, and the Warriors star replied with an invitation to do just that, Barkley has now apologized.
“I want to apologize to Draymond Green,” Barkley said on ESPN Radio Chicago. “I wasn’t literally going to fight an NBA player, and if he took it like that, I want to apologize. Just because I said something that I shouldn’t have said, I want to be man enough to apologize. I was 100 percent wrong.”
Barkley reiterated that apology later on Inside the NBA, and extended it to Green’s mother, who had joined in the fray over the remark Tuesday night: “What I said was inappropriate. I would never punch an NBA player. I meant what I said. I meant what I said. But I would never punch an NBA player. Draymond Green is a good player, I think he’s a nice kid, and I wish him nothing but the best. I have guys who are mentors to me and they called me and said what I said was inappropriate … Draymond is a hell of a player. He’s an irritant. He annoys me at times, but he’s a hell of a player, and I apologize.”
Sir Charles had launched the contretemps by expressing his desire for a punchfest, saying, as the TNT halftime show for Game 2 of Golden State-New Orleans began: “I just want somebody to punch him in the face.”
Ernie Johnson tried gamely to segue, but Barkley continued, “I really do. I want someone to punch him in the face.”
Kenny Smith poked the bear with a rhetorical flourish: “You don’t like Draymond?” And Barkley repeated his theme. “I want to punch him in the face so bad.” When Smith inquired why again, Barkley added: “I’m just telling you, I want to punch his a — in the face. I do.”
Shaquille O’Neal put an end to the matter with a quick, “When Chuck get [sic] like that, just leave him alone.”
Green wasn’t about to leave it alone, though, after his 20-point, nine-rebound, 12-assist performance.
“He’s seen me a million times,” Green said. “If he feels that strongly about it, then punch me in my face when you see me. If you’re not going to punch me in my face when you see me, then shut up. It’s no different than someone sitting behind a computer screen, tweeting, ‘I’ll knock you out’ and you never see them in life.
“He’s seen me a bunch of times and he’ll see me again this year [when TNT broadcasts the Western Conference finals]. Punch me in the face when you see me or, if not, no one cares what you would have done. You old [sic] and it is what it is. So, if you ain’t going to punch me when you see me, then stop talking about it. Period.”
And Barkley, who famously said during his playing days that he was no role model, wasn’t one for Green.
“[Barkley] told y’all in ’90-what that he wasn’t your kid’s role model anyway … so there you have it,” Green said. “He wasn’t my role model. I grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. … That’s what you do, you talk. You talk junk during basketball. That’s how I was raised. I was raised in a family like that, so I didn’t need a Charles Barkley to influence me.”
In that ad, Barkley said he was “paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models.”
Added Green: “I wasn’t a Charles Barkley fan growing up. No disrespect to Chuck. He’s a great player, but as I got older, I watched his game because I knew he was undersized and the things that he could do, I tried to add some of that stuff to my game. But nah, he didn’t influence me at all.”
Green, though, admitted that he strives to be a role model although, like Chuck, he doesn’t want to be.
“I try to be,” he told ESPN. “But it’s not my decision on whether I’m somebody’s role model or not, but I try to be the model citizen.”
His mom, Mary, was a big influence and she was quick to jump in Tuesday night.
@NBAonTNT Charles Barkley I wish you would.. you think Shaq had you RUNNING! #MANGONE
In a February 2017 “Dray Day” podcast, Green ripped Barkley for criticizing LeBron James, telling Marcus Thompson II: “I’m all for destroying Barkley. You know, Barkley talk [sic] a lot. A whole lot for a guy who has not won a championship. … I think Shaq should talk about the champions. Kenny should talk about the champions. Ernie can talk about the champions. When it comes time to speak about someone who has a championship, Barkley should be muted. You know how on … [ESPN’s] ‘Around the Horn’ where they just ice somebody out on the screen? They should be able to do that with Barkley any time the name of a champion come up.”
On Tuesday night, Green raised a different point about the whole threat. “I think it’s pretty sad. It’s probably something that needs to … when you look at the president of TNT, David Levy, which [sic] I know well, it’s kind of embarrassing on their behalf. … I’m an employee of the NBA, he’s an employee of TNT … and you have your biggest sponsor, one of the faces of that company, saying that on national television,” he said (via the Athletic’s Tim Kawakami. “That’s embarrassing for them, so that’s something — a problem that they have.”
Green added that he wasn’t upset “by a guy who just talks. It is what it is, but it’s still embarrassing on their behalf.”
Perhaps Chuck felt the same. Either way, he’s sorry for the words.