Charles Barkley takes up Bettman's invitation to Cup Final

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During a press conference before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night and after the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers were named the greatest team in National Hockey League history by the fans, Barkley crashed the presser with Gretzky and Oilers great Paul Coffey with a question.

"There's nothing more nerve-wracking than Stanley Cup playoff overtime hockey", Barkley remarked.

Barkley's first question for Gretzky had the audience laughing.

Barkley is a friend to a number of hockey players - including Florida's ageless Jaromir Jagr - and isn't a stranger to hockey arenas.

Gretzky turned around, saw Barkley, and without hesitation gave his answer.

Since he crashed a press conference about great players and teams, it was a natural for Barkley to be asked about the common thread between all great players. "But great teams, multiple championships, I put them on a pedestal", said Barkley.

The response earned a hearty laugh from Barkley, who was then introduced by Gretzky as the "biggest hockey fan in North America". "They had a team called the Bulls back in the day". When he began his National Basketball Association career in Philadelphia, it wasn't an odd sight to see him at Flyers game, cheering on Ron Hextall, his favorite player of all-time, and later Eric Lindros.

Sir Charles has been a hockey fan since his days with the Philadelphia 76ers following the 1990s Eric Lindros-led Flyers teams. Barkley said he has attended a number of Stanley Cup playoff games over the years in Chicago.

The Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins look destined for a seven-game series after the Preds' win in Game 4 on Monday night, while the much-anticipated NBA Finals "three-match" between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers has been rather one-sided through two games with the Warriors twice rolling to relatively easy wins. The Naismith Hall of Famer said he was looking forward to a little time in "Smashville". "They say it's insane".

Ready for playoff hockey? "I'm not breaking earth-shattering news".

Barkley goes out of his way on NBA-related broadcasts to promote hockey.

"I want to know if my guy really cares", Barkley said, "and if you watch Ron Hextall play, you knew he really wanted to win".

He also said among basketball players, "A lot of the brothers root for Seth Jones because his father [Popeye] played in the NBA".

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