Jenni Carlson

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Hi, I’m Jenni. I’ll be your tour guide

by Jenni Carlson Published: January 18, 2011

Back in college, I spent one summer working as an orientation assistant for incoming freshmen. Part of the gig required showing the youngsters and their parents around campus, walking around and pointing out academic buildings and residence halls and other places that they needed to know about and even throwing in the occasional bit of trivia.

Needless to say, I have decent credentials as a tour guide.

Which brings us to our good buddy Charles Barkley.

What’s up, Chuck?

So, we understand that you heard about the column that I wrote last week. You know, the one pointing out the fact that you promised to visit Oklahoma City five years ago but still haven’t made good on your promise.

Your pal Ernie Johnson made sure to point it out Monday night during halftime of the Thunder-Lakers game.

(I always knew I liked Ernie.)

Charles Barkley, dressed in mock cowboy attire, waits on the set for the beginning of TNT's Inside the NBA at the NBA Jam Session, part of the NBA All-Star events in Houston, Texas, Febraury 16, 2006. Barkley was dressed up to address the negative comments he made about Oklahoma during a broadcast last week. By Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Charles Barkley, dressed in mock cowboy attire, waits on the set for the beginning of TNT's Inside the NBA at the NBA Jam Session, part of the NBA All-Star events in Houston, Texas, Febraury 16, 2006. Barkley was dressed up to address the negative comments he made about Oklahoma during a broadcast last week. By Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

And Chuck, you once again promised that you’d make a visit to our fair city.

“Has it been five years?” you asked your cohorts on the set. “Well, you know what? Jenni, you are a hundred percent correct. Now that you’ve got my good friend Scott Brooks there, and the great Maurice Cheeks, who I played with in Philly, I’ve got to come to Oklahoma City.”

OK, Chuck, since you sound like you’re giving this some serious consideration, I’ve got an offer — I will be your tour guide.

Listen, I am a transplant to Oklahoma City, so like you, I once came to the city with some preconceived notions. But I quickly realized what a great place this is.

I’d love to show you some of the reasons why.

We’d start with the bombing memorial because even though that doesn’t signal the start of this city, what happened that day is central to where we are now. To understand the growth and the vibrancy and the resolve, you have to start at the memorial.

Then, we’d have to go check out Stockyard City, a place that has the cows and chickens that you seem to think everyone has around here.

(I promise, I have no livestock living in my yard nor have I seen any in my neighbors’ yards.)

Also, there’s a side benefit to going to Stockyard City — Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. You can’t come to Oklahoma City and not eat at the legendary restaurant. And Charles, I know there’s some talk about you being on a diet, but you need to suspend it for Cattlemen’s.

Or if you want, we could counteract the food with a stop at boathouse row on the river. They put folks in boats and have them row on the river. I know you’re a bit on the tall side, but I suspect they’d figure something out for you, Chuck.

And since you’d probably be coming for a game, we’d have to check out Bricktown. It’s the place where folks gather before games, and it would be hopping with Thunder fans. No doubt that folks would come up to you to shake your hand, to get an autograph, to take a picture, and you’d get to see how darn nice folks are here. That’s really the greatest thing about Oklahoma City — the people.

When you come to town, you’ll have a chance to see it for yourself, Chuck.

I’m here to help.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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