Barkley unfazed by long ACC odds, picks Cavaliers over Warriors in 6
STATELINE — Charles Barkley has the worst odds to win the 2015 American Century Championship next month at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. But a slim chance at winning didn’t stop the NBA Hall of Famer and ACC mainstay from making the tournament a priority.
“I’m not trying to compete,” said Barkley, who is listed at 5,000 to 1. “I think it’s just a beautiful place.”
Barkley put off hip surgery until a few days after this year’s tournament so he could return to Edgewood. Doctors originally scheduled the surgery following the conclusion of the NBA season, but that wouldn’t fly for the basketball personality who finished last in 2014 with a Modified Stableford score of minus-98, 174 points behind champion Mark Rypien.
“Clearly you haven’t seen me play golf at Lake Tahoe,” Barkley told his doctor. “I’m not missing Lake Tahoe, and that’s it. I’m going to play Lake Tahoe, and I’m going to get it done a couple of days after that.
“I’m going to be laid up for the rest of the summer, so this is going to be probably my most fun time … that’s going to be my last hurrah before I get my new hip.”
Barkley was on a conference call along with NFL veteran Trent Dilfer and retired Army corporal Chad Pfeifer on Tuesday as part of ACC’s media day, and admitted he has a better chance to win the lottery than finishing atop the leaderboard at Edgewood. He simply plans enjoy the galleries and picturesque course surroundings before going under the knife.
“I played some of the best golf courses in the world — I’ve been blessed to do that,” Barkley said. “And as far as scenery, I don’t think you get much better scenery than you do at Lake Tahoe. It’s a wonderful city, it’s a wonderful place — but some of the views are just pretty cool.”
After surgery, Barkley will have full rotation in a hip that currently only rotates at 10 percent. As a result, he already made a bold prediction for the 27th-annual tournament in 2016.
“Hopefully next year when I get my new hip I’m going to win this thing,” Barkley said. “I’m going to go deep at Lake Tahoe next year.”
As for forecasting the NBA Finals that got underway last night, Barkley predicted the Cavaliers to beat the Warriors in six games. He ultimately likes LeBron and Co. over Splash Brothers-led Golden State, but added it wouldn’t come as a shock if the Warriors win the series.
“This is a pick ‘em series — I’m picking them because of (LeBron),” Barkley said. “LeBron is going to have to play well (for) four games if the Cavs are going to win this thing. LeBron will have to go crazy for four games and dominate it mentally and physically.”
Barkley said that outside of the backcourt of league MVP Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State’s bench play has fueled its run through the Western Conference. He added that the Warriors’ are a better defensive team than he previously thought.
“I think their bench has been amazing — I think that’s probably the thing that surprised me the most, how good their bench is,” Barkley said. “If you take away Klay and Steph, I think they’re better — that’s no disrespect to anybody — they’d be bringing guys on the bench who are all stars.”
Ultimately, Barkley’s pick of the Cavaliers to win the championship hinged on his long-held belief that an outside-oriented team isn’t geared to capture the title. Golden State’s reliance on jump shots goes against the hall of fame forward’s hardwood philosophy.
“If they prove me wrong I’m going to say, hey, great job, I was wrong — but they have played fantastic,” Barkley said. “My notion that I want my team built inside out, that’s just my philosophy.”
During the call, Barkley also announced that he plans to donate $1 million apiece to his alma mater Auburn University, Wounded Warrior Project and Morehouse College. In July, he hopes to have less generosity when it comes to the local casino tables.
“The most important thing of the weekend is winning money at the blackjack table,” Barkley admitted. “I just want to make sure I have won money or didn’t lose money — that’s the key to my entire weekend at Lake Tahoe.”
If Barkley is looking to stay in the black, a bet on himself to win the tournament might not be the best idea.
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