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Gold Rush Classic strikes gold: Barkley and Murray

The Gold Rush Classic wasn’t scheduled as a comedy, but it certainly might be now that actor Bill Murray and colorful NBA commentator Charles Barkley have been added to the Sept. 26-27 pro-am list.

Barkley, one of the NBA’s 50 All-Time Greatest Players, and Murray, best know for his roles in “Caddyshack” and “Stripe,” will join NBA/WNBA players and legends, along with Senior Tour professionals, in the upcoming pro-am at Serrano Country Club near Eldorado Hills, Calif.

Sacramento Kings owner Gavin Maloof is using the tournament to bring more attention to the necessity of children being able to read.



“Attracting the commitments of marquis names like Charles Barkley and Bill Murray has been so rewarding in our efforts to help kids read,” said Maloof, who also owns the WNBA’s Monarchs and WISL’s Knights.”It is commitments like theirs that enable us to make a difference in the lives of Sacramento kids by helping them to master reading – a basic and necessary building block in life.”

Barkley, a future Hall of Famer brought vitality, attitude and a host of skills to professional basketball, maturing into one of the league’s most entertaining, inspiring and recognizable individuals. One of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All time, “Sir Charles” won the Most Valuable Player Award in 1993 and was a perennial member of the All-Interview Team.



Upon his retirement in 2000, Barkley ranked 13th in the NBA in career scoring with 23,757 points and 15th in rebounding with 12,546 rebounds, finishing with career averages of 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds in 1,073 games. He is one of only four players, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Karl Malone, to post more than 23,000 points, 12,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists in his career.

Barkley spent eight years with the Philadelphia 76ers before being traded to the Phoenix Suns in 1992 where he won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award while leading the Suns to the NBA’s best record at 62-20. In 1996, Barkley was traded to Houston, where he joined stars Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler on a team with title aspirations.

In addition to a sterling pro career, Barkley was the leading scorer on the famous gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic “Dream Team” in 1992 in Barcelona and in 1996 in Atlanta. At 6-6 and 252 pounds, Barkley had an unusual build for a basketball player – much stockier than most small forwards, yet far shorter than the league’s power forwards. Nevertheless, he outmaneuvered and outsmarted bigger players and overpowered smaller opponents. He was fluid on the break, a powerful jumper, a deadeye shooter from any angle and one of those rare talents who performed at his best in the clutch.

Following his retirement from the NBA after the 1999-2000 season, Barkley joined TNT as a studio analyst on TNT’s NBA coverage. Barkley, now known for mixing analysis with humor on Wednesday and Thursday nights, shares his television time with fellow studio anchors Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith.

Murray is ranked among the world’s most popular actors, having forged an eccentric career allowing him to stretch from comedy to intelligent adult drama.

As a young man looking for a direction in life, Murray joined his brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, in the cast of Chicago’s famous Second City improvisational comedy troupe and later relocated to New York City, joining radio’s”National Lampoon Hour.” It was there that Murray was recruited for the cast of the ABC variety program, “Saturday Night Live” with Howard Cosell.

At that same time, a program also named “Saturday Night Live” was creating a much bigger buzz on the NBC network. Due to his talent and popularity, Murray was tapped to become the show’s star. From there, Murray began his major film career in 1979 with the blockbuster hit “Meatballs.” And in 1980, Murray starred, appropriately enough, in “Caddyshack” as a crazy golf course groundskeeper hunting a gopher that is slowly destroying his golf course. The film launched him into the ranks of major stardom.

Since then, Murray has starred in numerous films, including “Stripes,” “Tootsie,” “Ghostbusters,” “Groundhog Day,” “King Pin,” “Space Jam” and “Rushmore,” which earned him the Best Supporting Actor award from the New York Film Critics Circle.

Charles Barkley and Bill Murray will be participating in the NBA-WNBA Celebrity Pro-Am on Sept. 26 and 27, which will pair NBA and WNBA players and legends with Senior PGA Tour professionals and Leadership for Literacy Team golfers who are supporting the event.

Jim Thorpe is the defending Gold Rush Classic champion. The 54-hole tournament begins Sept. 28.


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