Charles Barkley called David Stern’s bluff about NBA ‘betting’ banishment: Mark Jackson

David Stern did not think betting banter between Mark Jackson and Charles Barkley as they were dueling each other up and down the court was a laughing matter.

On his eponymous podcast, Jackson recalled a now-humorous story that happened in 1990, when he was on the Knicks and Barkley was on the 76ers.

Mark Jackson #13 of the New York Knicks looks on during an NBA basketball game against the Washington Bullets at the Capital Centre on February 22, 1990 Getty Images

“I’m not a natural scorer but this was one of those days where I got it going,” Jackson said to begin the narrative.

“So down the stretch of the game, I’m scoring, he’s scoring, we’re talking trash to each other. End of the game, we finally win, media run towards me. I’m like, ‘What is going on?’”

Jackson mimicked a reporter’s voice saying, “Charles Barkley said you bet on the game.”

He recalled that “next day, the headlines in the New York papers, Jax and Barkley bet on game.”

Clearly, this caught the ire of Stern, the famously hard-charging commissioner.

Charles Barkley #34 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on from the bench during a NBA basketball game against the Washington Bullets at the Capital Centre on December 26, 1990. Getty Images

“David Stern sends a message: Charles Barkley and Mark Jackson, get to New York headquarters immediately,” Jackson continued.

“I’m in my second year. I’m like, ‘This is crazy.’”

As Jackson told the story, he and Barkley were one-upping each other each way down the court, with banter like, “I bet I’ll dunk on y’all.”

The two made a $500 wager on who would make the big play during their game, according to the L.A. Times.

“I bet you he won’t throw us out the league“— 😂 Charles Barkley to Mark Jackson in NBA Commissioner David Stern’s office in 1990 after Stern threatened to throw them out of the league for “I bet you I’ll make this shot” trash talk during a Knicks-Sixers game— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) March 22, 2024

Jackson remembered Stern saying, “There’s no betting on basketball. It will not be tolerated. I’ll throw you guys out of the league. How dare you guys even insinuate that you’re betting?”

Jackson said that Stern told the pair he was going to leave his office for 15 minutes and come back with his decision, and the former Knicks guard was “panicking” about what this could mean for his future.

The NBA TV crew, Charles Barkley, Mark Jackson, and Jeff Van Gundy talk before Game Three of the 2014 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat on June 10, 2014 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NBAE/Getty Images

Barkley, however, was unbothered.

“The commissioner leaves the room, and Charles Barkley looks at me and goes, ‘I bet you he won’t throw us out the league,’” Jackson said, laughing.

“I’m like, ‘This dude is crazy, man.’”

Ultimately, Jackson and Barkley were fined $5,000 apiece for their banter.

Late former NBA Commissioner David Stern, left, shakes Charles Barkley’s hand in New York, after the former Auburn University forward was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. Barkley was picked fifth in the NBA draft. AP

”While I am persuaded that there was nothing more going on here than some verbal jockeying between two friendly rivals,” Stern said at the time, ”it is my responsibility to make plain to Messrs. Barkley and Jackson and everyone else in the NBA that on the subject of gambling, even the slightest appearance of impropriety is a serious matter.”

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