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This time, no apology necessary from Charles Barkley

ON SPORTS MEDIA

His use of a profanity on TNT’s NBA studio show was no departure from the silliness that is part of the program’s charm.

April 21, 2010|By Diane Pucin

Charles Barkley said, "I'm sorry," again. There have been many.

This was a waste of a good apology, though.

This was just silliness, and silliness is part of the charm of TNT's studio show hosted by Ernie Johnson and commentated on by Barkley and Kenny Smith.

These guys have fun and talk intelligently about NBA games. They are sarcastic, sardonic, ironic, goofy. They rip on one another.

They mock NBA players and their otherworldly wardrobe choices (see: Dwyane Wade and his Austin Powers-inspired suit from the other night).

Tuesday, during a regular feature sponsored by T-Mobile in which fans submit videos asking questions, two women, one blond and one brunet, asked Barkley whether he preferred blonds or brunets. The question aired during halftime of the Lakers-Oklahoma City game.

Let's see. This question didn't seem designed to elicit a thought-provoking answer. It wasn't aimed at educating the halftime viewers about Phil Jackson and the triangle offense or whether Kevin Durant is the best player in the game.

Its purpose was to get a wickedly funny response from Barkley. It certainly got a wicked response.

Johnson and Smith poked at Barkley, demanding an answer.

"Oh, oh," Johnson said.

"Yeah, Charles, answer the question," Smith said. "Answer the question."

Finally, Barkley said, "You all are …" and used a word most anyone involved in playing sports, coaching sports, watching sports, talking about sports, has heard before. And probably used before. Even moms and dads and possibly even their kids. But it is a vulgarity.

Before the night was over, Barkley apologized on the air. On Wednesday, TNT issued a statement: "Charles apologizes to anyone who was offended by his unfortunate choice of words on our air last night."

That can't be referring to anyone who actually attends a sporting event.

Because if you do you'll hear much worse from other fans, from an occasional player, perhaps from a coach. In this open-microphone age, we're going to hear the bad word now and then.

Anyone read the story about the Philadelphia Phillies game last week at which a drunken fan was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after he was accused of purposely vomiting on an 11-year-old girl? She attended the game with her father, a police officer who was off duty, and had the nerve to ask a group of loudmouths to tone down the vulgar language.

The reason the Ernie, Kenny and Charles show is so popular is because the three have chemistry and a freedom to treat the set as if it were the locker room. They don't feel a need to please us all. They don't think twice about every word.

Let's hope they don't.

And if apologies are needed, how about starting with whoever decided to put that video clip on the air? Considering the issues that golfer Tiger Woods and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are having with issues of inappropriate contact with women, maybe the concept for that particular snippet was ill-considered.

And what about Johnson and Smith? Come on. They know Barkley's humor style. Should they have to apologize for egging Barkley on? No, of course not. That's what they do.

We're in Round 1 of the NBA playoffs and Barkley still has six weeks or so to be talking. Maybe we'll need a new statistic — APG (apologies per game) — by the time June rolls around.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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