One of the NBA Finals it’s most fun to look back on in retrospect is 1993, featuring Charles Barkley’s Suns and Michael Jordan’s Bulls. Barkley had just claimed his first (and only) MVP award after averaging 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 52 percent and leading the Suns to an NBA-best 62-20 record, but he and Phoenix weren’t able to stop Chicago’s first three-peat. Barkley recently admitted Game Two was a turning point for him, as despite his 42-point, 13-rebound effort, Jordan and the Bulls came out on top. He told his daughter afterwards, “Baby, I think Michael Jordan’s better than me.” If the ball from that game could talk, here’s what it might have said to Barkley afterwards.
Hey, Charles. You had a pretty incredible game there, you know? 16-for-26 from the field, shooting 62 percent, putting up 42 points; there aren’t a lot of guys who can pull that off. I don’t really know what you were thinking on that three-point attempt, though, but that’s okay. You had a great night on the boards, too; 13 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass? We make a pretty awesome team.
You know, Charles, I think we should see other people, though. I’m not sure I’m ready to settle down with one guy, and I don’t particularly like most of your teammates at the moment. Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle? There’s a reason they shot 25 and 29 percent. You’re a great guy, and I love hanging around with you; you’ve certainly got plenty of confidence. Regular-season MVP awards aren’t everything, though, and I don’t know if you’re the one for me when it comes down to crunch time.
That Mike guy, though, wow. He’s got it all. 42 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists? There’s just such a deep chemistry between us. His friends are more fun to be around, too, and at least they haven’t forgot how to shoot. Plus, there’s the whole image thing. I know you don’t want to be a role model, and that’s okay, but sometimes even us basketballs want someone to look up to. Plus, there’s the whole rhyming scheme; “Be Like Mike” just has such a better ring to it than “Be Like Chuck.”
You’ve got nothing to worry about, though, Charles. I’m not going to give up on you, and there are lots of good years left for us. Sure, maybe we can’t get a ring together, but there’s still gold in our future in Atlanta. One thing I like about you too is you know when to quit; unlike Mike, you’re not going to keep trying to come back to me when I’m ready to move on. In fact, your retirement’s going to be a lot better than his; you’ll be a widely-celebrated analyst while he’s still sporting questionable facial hair, doing commercials with Charlie Sheen, and owning lousy NBA teams. For now, though, I have to tell you the truth, and the truth is, he’s the better man for me. Ball don’t lie.
More from “Talking To Talking Balls Week” at the Good Men Project:
Bethlehem Shoals: The Absurd Talking Balls
Peter Schrager: The Great Frank Brickowski
Tim Burke: A Cavs Fan’s Love for Laimbeer
Tom Ley: The Ballad of Adam Morrison
Andy Hutchins: Nice Try, Kobe
Eric Nusbaum: Lakers Flags
Patrick Hayes: Patrick and The Admiral
Graydon Gordian: Sprewellian Anxiety
Alan Siegel: The Hypocrisy of Jordan’s Ball
Holly MacKenzie: Everything Is Possible
Kurt Helin: Lee’s Layup