The finale is a news conference featuring Barkley early Sunday night. The West has throttled the East 139-112 in a game that meant far less to anybody concerned than the million-dollar shot meant to Hoban.
Barkley is dressed in a gray Sun sweatshirt and sweatpants rather than that royal robe. There is a definite feeling that this has been his time, his place, his weekend. He has been the mostly perfect host, except for a comment about hating white people, which he says was meant as a joke when he said it to a friend but which could hardly have failed to stir up a Barkleyesque controversy, seeing as it was caught on an open TV mike. Barkley has appeared here and there and everywhere, from the opening roast until the conclusion now, mostly light and easy in everything he has done.
"Would you really have gone off the catapult?" a reporter asks.
"Sure," Barkley says. "That looked fun."
The catapult is a springboard contraption that the Suns' mascot, dressed as a gorilla, used to propel himself into the air for a monster dunk during a timeout in the fourth quarter. Barkley walked out from the West huddle and asked the gorilla if he could try it. The gorilla gave Barkley the ball, and he was heading toward liftoff when Sun coach Paul Westphal, also the West coach, ran onto the floor to stop him from possible injury. Barkley says he would still like to try, but not right now.
"It's over," he says. "This has been a long weekend for the Chuckster. I'm glad everyone came and spent a lot of money, but now you can pack your bags and get out of here. We don't want you here anymore."
I say this is fine. Enough is enough. Take me to the catapult.