Phoenix Bids Sir Charles Adieu at Dream Show

PHOENIX -- With their team leading by 59 points and about a minute to play, most fans would have either pulled out a beach ball, plunged into the wave or simply gone home.

Not at America West Arena. Not Wednesday night where the U.S. Olympic team overwhelmed the Chinese Olympians, 119-58, in a pre-Olympic exhibition game.

With 1:18 to play, the sellout crowd of 19,023 was intensely focused on the court, no longer simply Americans cheering on their national team. They were Phoenix Suns fans, cheering one last time for forward Charles Barkley, expected to be traded sometime after the moratorium on player transactions is lifted Thursday afternoon.

Olympic Coach Lenny Wilkens responded by putting Barkley in for the final minute. Barkley trotted onto the court and embraced Reggie Miller to a standing ovation.

It wasn't exactly Lou Gehrig tearfully saying goodbye at Yankee Stadium, but it was certainly the emotional high on a night when the U.S. Olympians resorted to bouncing passes off the backboard and practicing reverse dunks to stay interested in the game.

When it was finally, mercifully over, Barkley was again the focal point, blasting the Suns in a news conference.

"The whole scenario has been disrespectful," Barkley said. The Suns "have been saying things behind my back, but that's O.K. because I don't trust anybody in sports. They can't shop me around all summer and expect me to come back and give 110 percent. That's not fair to me as a person. That's not fair to me as an athlete. ... They have made me a laughingstock.

"I know I'm a hell of a basketball player and I know I can help some teams. I don't think I can be the best player on the team anymore and win a championship. Hopefully it will work out good for me. And I want the Suns to be successful. The fans here deserve a winner."

So there is no way Barkley will return? "If they walked in now and said, 'Hey, we were a bunch of idiots. We are sorry for trading all of your help away. We apologize for shopping you around like a piece of meat. Will you finish your career here in Phoenix?' I would say, I would love to."

Don't hold your breath. Suns officials maintained their silence. But they are known to be working on several deals, the most likely a three-way trade with the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets that would put Barkley in Houston. When a foreign reporter attempted to ask a question during Barkley's tirade, he snapped back, "Let me finish. You're not even from this country. Chill."

That's Charles. Even on a night when he's the good guy, he can't resist being the bad guy.


Coming this fall to MTV: Dennis Rodman in all his different shades of hair color and nail polish.

Rodman said Wednesday that he has signed with the music television network to star in a weekly series.

The 30-minute show doesn't have a title yet and the exact format remains up in the air, but Rodman is pleased to be bringing his outrageousness into America's living rooms.

"It's going to be something totally different," the Chicago Bulls star told a gathering at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "It'll be a real refreshing thing for me."

The idea was hatched when Rodman made a guest appearance on this year's swimsuit edition of MTV's "House of Style," in which he tried on swimsuits with the help of Cindy Crawford.

MTV will produce 20 shows in which Rodman will play host to celebrity guests from the worlds of sports, music and television. The shows will be taped during a five-week period over August and September at an as yet undetermined location.

"I'm not going to touch a basketball until October anyway," he said about the possibility that his burgeoning TV career would interfere with basketball. (AP)