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What's up, Chuck? Oklahoma City is still waiting for Charles Barkley's promised visit

TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley once called Oklahoma a “vast wasteland.” Then Oklahoma City folks invited Barkley to visit and see for himself. Barkley accepted. So why are we still waiting, Chuck?
by Jenni Carlson Modified: January 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm •  Published: January 12, 2011

You promised, Charles Barkley.

Perhaps you have forgotten the pledge that you made to come to Oklahoma City. You said you would visit our fair state. You said you wanted to make amends for those not-so-nice things you said about us.

Any of that ringing a bell?

I could see how it might've slipped your mind. It has been almost five years, after all.

We're still waiting.

What's up, Chuck?

Tonight, another golden opportunity comes and goes without a visit. Your network is broadcasting the Thunder-Magic game, and it promises to be a heck of a night at the Oklahoma City Arena.

The stars will be out. Dwight Howard. Kevin Durant. Gilbert Arenas. Russell Westbrook. Jason Richardson. Jeff Green.

That's your kind of crowd, Charles. It's a star-studded cast, a talented group of guys who grab the spotlight. This is a game that everyone will be watching.

Wouldn't it have been fun for you to saunter onto the court amid all the fanfare and say howdy to Oklahoma City?

Maybe the mayor could've presented you with a Thunder jersey, your name on the back of course.

Or you could've hung out courtside with Kevin Durant's mom. She's a cool lady.

Or you could've had a dunk contest with Rumble.

Hey, we're nice people here. We love to roll out the red carpet. We like to show off our hospitality. We enjoy surprising people. And I definitely think you'd be surprised, Chuck.

This isn't some vast wasteland, after all.

Remember? That's what you called us during TNT's All-Star Selection Show back in 2006. You were interviewing Chris Paul, then a rookie sensation playing in Oklahoma City for the relocated New Orleans Hornets.

“Oklahoma is nothing but vast wasteland,” you said.

But wait, there was more.

You also said that Oklahoma was “no place for black people. The Oklahoma Sooners and the Hornets are the only brothers in town.”

But wait, there was still more.

You asked Paul if he had chickens and cows in his yard.

Some folks here didn't take too kindly what you had said. Letters to the editor were written. Signs with clever zings were made. Pitchforks were taken up, torches were lit.

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by Jenni Carlson
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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