Deadspin associate editor Rick Chandler is at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament at Stateline, Nev., this week. He is not considered one of the celebrities; in fact, at the clubhouse entrance Drew Brees handed Chandler a claim check and said "It's a blue Lexus." This is the first of his two reports today.
Since the early days of the tournament, American Century has enforced a strict "No sitting on the press" policy with its celebrity golfers. Of course, there's nothing in there specifically about horizontal freak dancing, and Charles Barkley always has his eye out for loopholes. Now, we have a general idea of what a night on the town must be like for Barkley, but few real details. We know that in 2003 at this event, he spent most of three nights drinking and singing in the karaoke bar at Caesar's Tahoe. Barkley's singing, and we can attest to this, is almost as bad as his golf. And that's saying something. Anyway, Wednesday night must have been something to behold, because by Thursday morning's pro-am, Barkley was looking for any excuse to nap. Keep in mind that the photo above was taken on the first hole; a disturbing turn of phrase actually, now that we consider what appears to be happening.
The unfortunate photographer on the bottom of the Round Mound of Rebound is Dan Thrift of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, and here's what happened. Thrift went to his belly, sniper style, to get shots of Barkley putting. Charles sees this out of the corner of his eye, and before making his shot, heads right toward Thrift. "I wasn't sure if he thought I was paparazzi, and he wanted to harm me," Thrift said later. "He looked determined." And Barkley indeed was determined ... for a nap. He plopped down onto Thrift, stretched out, put his hands under his cheek and pretended to drift off into peaceful slumber. Thrift had no actual comment on what it was like to be used as a futon by a sweaty, rotund former NBA player. Only one other thought comes to mind here, and it's from the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles: "Those aren't pillows!! ..."
Technically, Barkley is to golf what Barbaro is to breathing air next week. His odds on winning the event this year are listed at 500/1, which is kind. And Barkley probably deserves that break, because he is easily the most entertaining part of this event year after year. Last year he shot an 84, and that's with a scoring system that throws out any strokes above 5. Barkley has a peculiar hitch to his swing — he actually stops halfway through — with predictable results. Barkley once even lost to comedian Brad Garrett.
Which reminds us, Ray Romano is also here. With a goatee.