Charles Barkley joins ESPN’s Stanley Cup Final broadcast, tells Mark Messier ‘you owe me $5,000’

Charles Barkley never fails to deliver on his stories. The NBA Hall of Famer makes up one-fourth of the electric “NBA on TNT” crew that brings excitement and laughter to NBA broadcasts. 

Turns out, Barkley is versatile in his sports coverage.

During the first intermission of Game 2 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final, the former NBA sensation made a surprise appearance alongside host Steve Levy and analysts Mark Messier and P.K. Subban. Barkley immediately jelled with the hockey desk, wasting no time chiming in on the banter and giving his analysis of Warren Foegele’s dangerous hit on Eetu Luostarinen that resulted in an ejection. 

It wouldn’t be a Barkley appearance without a story to go with it, and the former NBA star did not fail to deliver a great tale of meeting Messier the first time. 

MORE: Follow live updates of Oilers vs. Panthers Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final

How did Charles Barkley meet Mark Messier?

Barkley was a surprise guest on the ESPN analyst desk for the Oilers-Panthers first intermission, joining Levy, Messier, and Subban on the panel for a segment. 

However, Barkley was hardly set in place before he declared, “Mark owes me $5,000!”

It’s probably not the in-depth hockey analysis viewers expected to get following an entertaining first period in Sunrise, but Barkley elaborated on the claim, explaining just why Messier owes him five grand.  

Barkley detailed how he was playing in Canada at one point when he spotted Messier in the stands. He had never met the hockey great before, and he was not about to waste his chance to introduce himself. 

“Messier was sitting courtside in Canada — this is a true story — and I said to the ref, ‘I need to go talk to the great Mark Messier,'” Barkley said. “[The ref] said, ‘Chuck, you’re going to get a delay of game [penalty]’, and I said, ‘I don’t care.’ It was the first time I’d been around him in my life. He was sitting front row, and I said [to the ref], ‘I’ll take the fine.’

“So, Mark, you owe me $5,000.”

At the time, a delay of game infraction in the NBA resulted in a subsequent fine attached to it. Nowadays, that kind of call could result in a technical foul, which is not a fine in itself, but two techs can lead to an ejection and a fine. 

So, how are Barkley and Messier going to settle it? The same way any retired athlete does — on the golf course. 


Is Charles Barkley joining ESPN?

Barkley’s appearance on ESPN raised eyebrows for a few reasons. The obvious one is the fact that it was not a basketball show that he appeared on, but rather a hockey production. 

The other is the fact that it was on ESPN’s platform. Barkley is currently an employee at TNT and one of the four members of the “Inside the NBA” panel. Currently, the basketball league is negotiating new media rights deals with a number of companies, and it appears as though TNT may be out.

If that’s the case, then Barkley may need to find a new home if he wants to continue to be an analyst — somewhere like ESPN. 

Levy elected to stir the pot a bit, immediately asking Barkley if he was on the Stanley Cup Final desk to break news that he was joining ESPN, but Sir Charles wasn’t taking the bait. Instead, Barkley changed topics — like exclaiming that Messier owes him $5,000. 

As of now, nothing is official with the NBA and its TV deals. Barkley and TNT will have NBA broadcasts next year, so the entertaining analyst isn’t going anywhere yet.

However, his appearance on ESPN’s NHL coverage is one to remember if TNT officially loses the rights. 

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