"Gary Bettman gets me seats": Charles Barkley's hilarious response to ranking Shaquille O'Neal and the NHL commissioner on his best friends list

Charles Barkley puts NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman higher in his friend
Charles Barkley puts NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman higher in his friend's list over Shaquille O'Neal. [photo: Barkley IG, O'Neal IG, Bettman IG]

Charles Barkley is having his offseason even though the NBA Finals are still ongoing. Barkley’s work with TNT’s "Inside the NBA” ended after the Dallas Mavericks-Minnesota Timberwolves series in the Western Conference finals. ESPN is taking over national media coverage so Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson are enjoying their vacation.

Barkley, though, remains a highly-sought figure across different sports. He recently had a cameo with the team covering Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers. There is rarely a dull moment when the former Phoenix Suns MVP is around the broadcasting table.

On Monday, he was asked who ranked higher between Shaquille O’Neal and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in his list of friends. “Sir Charles” didn’t disappoint with his answer:

"Gary Bettman gets me seats. If you go be with Shaq you gotta smoke hookah and I don't smoke hookah. Gary Bettman always takes care of me.”

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Charles Barkley sometimes goes to watch hockey games. Last year, he was seen along with Gary Bettman and Flo Rida watching another Panthers game. Still, the basketball Hall of Famer's appearance at halftime of the said encounter likely surprised many. Barkley was there for 15 minutes but he stole the show.

Barkley’s dig at Shaquille O’Neal wasn’t something new. The close friends often throw shots at each other with impunity. “Sir Charles” has said worse things about Shaq than the reference to hookah.

Hockey and basketball fans react to Charles Barkley’s appearance in Stanley Cup Finals

Charles Barkley is a big hockey fan but no one likely thought he’d be on ESPN’s team covering the Stanley Cup Finals. Barkley’s 15-minute appearance quickly became a hit on social media. Basketball and hockey fans promptly reacted to his presence at the broadcast table with P.K. Subban, Steve Levy and Mark Messier.

“Charles Barkley just effortlessly waltzed onto the ESPN NHL intermission set and instantly gelled with Levy, Messier and Subban.
“What a legend.”

@Kevin_Noon said what many must be thinking:

“Charles Barkley needs to be on every studio crew. Make it happen.”

One fan declared:

“Charles Barkley is by far the most entertaining person on TV.”

Another fan was just as impressed:

“Immediately made the NHL Intermission show better”

Many of the fans were surprised by his solid evaluation of the Panthers-Oilers game. Some of them even joked that he did better than ESPN’s hosts. A regular stint, though, is unlikely.

Besides working for TNT, a rival network, Barkley may want to stick to analyzing basketball. He is more at home with “Inside the NBA” and his daily verbal sparring against Shaquille O’Neal is legendary. Barkley has Bettman higher on his list of friends but he is working with Shaq most of the time.

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