Charles Barkley was a guest during the first intermission of Monday’s Stanley Cup Finals game between the Lightning and Avalanche, and needed a reference point when discussing a big turnover.
Naturally, he brought up Jayson Tatum.
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Barkley, who’s not known for his hockey insight, was breaking down a 1st period turnover from Colorado’s Devon Toews that resulted in a go-ahead goal from Tampa Bay forward Ondrej Palat. The NBA Hall of Famer called the miscue a “regular ole Jayson Tatum turnover” before apologizing to the budding superstar.
“I’m just joking. I love you, Jayson Tatum,” Barkley said.
But the damage was already done. Tatum became the only player in NBA history to commit more than 100 turnovers in a single postseason, and looked gassed during the final games of the NBA Finals. He scored just 13 points in Game 6, and just two in the second half.
Historically, NBA stars don’t breakthrough and win their first championship until their late 20s. LeBron James won his first title at 27, Michael Jordan won his first at 28. At just 24 years old, Tatum is still ahead of schedule.
But his reputation took a hit this postseason. He may be first-team All-NBA, but he’s also a punchline.