In his 38 years of public life, Charles Barkley has created numerous hilarious moments, but this one transcends them all. At All-Star Saturday in 2007, the then-43-year-old Barkley challenged the then-67-year-old NBA referee Dick Bavetta to a footrace. Bavetta took the challenge quite seriously, and the race resulted in a kiss.
If any NBA players were as entertaining as Charles Barkley, it was very few. And fortunately for us, his 16-year Hall of Fame playing career didn’t end there. He has since had a lengthier career as a commentator for TNT’s Inside the NBA, for which he has won several Emmy Awards. Barkley has undoubtedly never been shy to express his opinions on, well, anything. He also has no issue embarrassing himself for laughs and I n light of those two factors, Chuck has undoubtedly given us some memorable events throughout the years, one of which being his epic $5,000 foot race versus famous NBA referee Dick Bavetta.
Who is Charles Barkley?
As a player, Charles Barkley was without a doubt the biggest abnormality in basketball history. Despite being billed as 6 feet 6 but actually measuring closer to 6 feet 4 due to his size, he was one of the best power forwards in NBA history, dominating opponents who were half a foot taller. Only five other NBA players—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett—have at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, and 4,000 assists. Of the six players that have accomplished this feat, Barkley is one.
But when discussing Barkley’s exploits, many people first think about his 16-year NBA career, which was marked by his continually odd and funny running commentary on basketball and life. Seven years after his retirement in 1999, Barkley was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He was also chosen for the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams. Since his playing career is ended, Barkley has evolved into one of basketball’s biggest off-court stars. He now hosts TNT’s renowned “Inside the NBA” coverage and provides uninterrupted entertainment for basketball fans all over the world.
Barkley and his iconic kiss with Dave Bavetta
One of the referees with the longest careers in American sports history is Dick Bavetta. He has witnessed the league’s apex with Kareem, Dr. J, Bird, Magic, Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, and LeBron James. It was determined that a race would be held in Las Vegas on All-Star Saturday night between Charles Barkley and Dick Bavetta and that $50,000, split equally between the NBA and TNT, would be donated to charity in conjunction with the occasion. Chuck won the race effortlessly and tripped backing into victory. While the race was really exciting, the subsequent hug and kiss between Chuck and Bavetta at half court was much better.
Since then, the league has struggled to add another interesting event to the All-Star Game weekend. After refereeing for seven more seasons and 2,365 games, an NBA record, Bavetta eventually announced his retirement in 2014. The next year, Charles Barkley was present on stage with him for his induction into the Hall of Fame. Bavetta, who is currently 81 years old, has a record for not missing any of the 39 games that have been allocated to him. He has also presided over difficult matchups, such as Game 6 of the Kings vs. Lakers matchup in 2002.