The Former Suns great coached the Cheez-It team to win in Celebrity Crunch Classic, April 2, 2017. (Richard Obert/azcentral sports)
Charles Barkley got an assist from former University of Arizona coach Lute Olson on the bench and watched his former Suns teammate Dan Majerle get hot from way beyond 3-point range in the second half Sunday during the Celebrity Crunch Classic before a large, enthusiastic crowd at Scottsdale Chaparral High.
Barkley’s Cheez-It team beat Magic Johnson’s Pringles team 99-84, as Majerle knocked down five 3-pointers (which were counted as four points in the second half) when he scored all of his points. Majerle’s last 3 was just beyond the half-court line and drew raves from Johnson.
Johnson, the former Los Angeles Lakers great who was part of the Olympic Dream Team with Barkley, was assessed a technical in the second half for coming out onto the court to celebrate a made basket by NBA2K host Rachel DeMita.
Music from a DJ was pumped in throughout the game, with timeouts promoting Kellogg’s products with kids involved. At one point, Barkley was part of a musical chairs game but, as one of the final four, ended up losing out to a little boy in a Michigan jersey who slipped in to steal his chair.
Barkley, now an NBA and college basketball analyst with TNT, took a few questions afterward:
Have you been part of coaching a Final Four celebrity game before?
“No. I haven’t done it before. Cheez-It and Pringles asked me to be involved. To have Magic Johnson, it was pretty cool. The thing is, I was a little pissed because I would prefer to be the Pringles guy than a Cheez-It guy. But I’m a big Cheez-It fan. But it was fun, though. It was really great that the community to come out and support it. I was totally surprised by the number of people who were here. So that made me feel pretty special.”
Was Dan Majerle given the green light?
“Dan has a yellow, red, green light. That’s my man. One of my favorite people to play with. But he has all the lights.”
How do you feel about what Majerle has done as a coach at Grand Canyon University?
“He’s done a fabulous job. Next year, they’re eligible for the (NCAA) Tournament. It’s tough to keep your kids motivated when you’re not playing for anything the last few years. He’s been successful. But now the fun starts and we can make the tournament. He’s going to be successful.”
What do you think of what Gonzaga has done getting to the national final?
“I think the Zags are fantastic. I think they’ve been the best team I’ve seen in the tournament. And I think they’re going to win this thing tomorrow night.”
BICKLEY: Gonzaga shows its mettle
What makes Gonzaga so special?
“When you look at all these teams on tape, that’s different. When you look at stats, that’s different. Now to see them in person with the eye test, they’re really, really good.”
How do you feel about how Phoenix is presenting the Final Four?
“(Joking) Man, this is my home number one, so I want all of these people to hurry up and leave. But this is a great city. We’ve got everything you need. Perfect weather. We’ve got great stadiums. Great restaurants. Great hotels. Phoenix is a perfect city for the Final Four, the Super Bowl, any type of big event.”
What are your feelings about having the Final Four in a football stadium?
“They’re always going to do it in football stadiums now. It’s big business now. But I’ll tell you, I said it on the air last night. Saturday at the Final Four is the greatest sporting day on the calendar.”