"What'd he say?" a reporter asks.
"He wasn't around long enough to piss anyone off," another reporter replies.
A one-game suspension is supposed to be the minimum mandatory penalty for throwing a punch. Barkley says he had to swing. The foul was flagrant. Then, when a punch was thrown at him, what was he supposed to do? Not punch back? "If they give the same punishment to both of us," Barkley says, "I'm going to lose what little respect I have for this league."(On Monday, the NBA fined Barkley $5,000 and suspended him for the regular-season opener; Oakley was hit with a $10,000 fine and a two-game suspension.)
The writers jot down his words. The cameras record them. "This is the easiest job I ever had," one Houston reporter says. "I just write down whatever he says."
"Hey, Kevin," Barkley says to Willis. " Patrick Ewing's in the hallway. He's waiting for you."
The Houston Rockets have traded for fun, if nothing else. The rest will have to be determined later.