By Debra Stevens
On the eve of the 45th annual NBA All-Star Weekend, Charles Barkley was roasted to juicy perfection.
The occasion was the Sir Charles Royal Roast, a gathering of more then 1,000 guests who all wanted to see Charles get his just desserts for a lifetime of stabs and jabs at friends and enemies alike.
Setting the stage for this Royal Roast was a backdrop of a medieval castle and a head table setting worthy of the last supper. Charles himself joined in the medieval spirit of the evening by arriving resplendent in a majestic purple robe, accompanied by actors in full Renaissance costume.
Adding spice to the evening was emcee Billy Crystal, who lifted two sets of cue cards saying, “We can have a nice, dignified evening of humor," or "We can bury this big, bald (expletive).” The crowd roared its approval at the latter, but all-in-all the evening was a good-hearted, gentle jab at the man we call “Sir Charles.”
Post-Royal analysts named Danny Ainge among the favorite roasters, which included Jerry Colangelo, Cotton Fitzsimmons, David Stern, Maureen Barkley, David Robinson, Mike Fratello, Phil Knight and comedian George Wallace.
Ainge’s roast gave a hilarious account of Barkley’s first 100 days in office as governor of Alabama. But his best shot came when he noted, “Charles says he’s not a role model. We’ve seen him naked and we’ll put his rolls up against anybody.”
Crystal also got big laughs throughout the night.
“It’s easy to roast a guy like Charles. He has such an enormous ego,” Crystal observed. “It’s very appropriate that Charles plays for the Phoenix Suns. After all, he thinks the world revolves around him.”
While the night was all in fun, its purpose was a serious one. Proceeds from the festivities will be distributed to the Charles Barkley Scholarship Fund, Kevin Johnson’s St. Hope Academy and Phoenix Suns Charities. Perhaps he had this higher purpose in mind when he had the last word. Although he mentioned each of the roasters, his comments were much more mellow than we have come to expect from Charles.
But he summed up the evening perfectly when he said, “I don’t mind that people say bad things about me. Most of it is true.”