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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Even Galveston’s Defenders Admit Charles Barkley Has a Point About the Water

  • The ‘Inside the NBA’ cohost has started blasting the Texas vacation destination on national television.
  • The water does often look muddy or brown.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There are always legacies on the line in the NBA playoffs. Is Joel Embiid a fraud? Should “Doctor” Glenn Rivers have his medical license stripped? Is Anthony Edwards the future of the league? None of those issues, though, are as pressing as the state of the water at the beaches in Galveston, Texas.

On Saturday, after the shorthanded Pelicans got smoked by the Thunder and fell behind 3–0 in their first-round series, it was clear that New Orleans’s season was as good as over. For the Inside the NBA crew, this is typically the point when Ernie Johnson & Co. giggle over a short segment in which they send cooked teams to Cancun, or the ceremonial “Gone Fishin’” segment. Instead, this time Shaquille O’Neal teed up the Pelicans for an all-time Charles Barkley rant.  

“I’m disappointed in New Orleans,” O’Neal said with a smile. “Where they going, Chuck?”

“Galveston,” Barkley said, as the rest of the cast struggled to keep it together. “That dirty-ass water. We’re not gonna send them to Cancun; we’re gonna send them to Galveston, where that dirty-ass water be washing up on the shore and you people think they on the beach. … Y’all quit. Drive your ass down to Galveston. … They didn’t even try, man. We’re not getting them no plane ticket to the beach. We’re sending their ass to Galveston, Texas, right where that dirty water wash on the beach. They can’t even get in the water.”

That might have been it—but Barkley unleashed a non-apology the next night that was arguably more aggressive.

“I don’t want the BeyHive and [Jay-Z] after me,” he said Sunday night, referencing the fact that Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles, is a Galveston native. “So just know that I apologize,” he said, before reiterating the jokes that landed him in dirty water the day before. Egging Barkley on, Kenny Smith asked whether his cohost would vacation there, to which Barkley responded, “Hell no.” 

“That water’s so dirty, I’d rather go to San Antonio,” said Barkley, who has a long-standing bit about hating San Antonio. 

Here’s the thing: The water in Galveston does appear to be dirty. It’s not unsafe or toxic, but the city’s own tourism board has a lengthy post headlined “Why Does Galveston’s Water Color Change?” explaining that blue-water days are unusual. Knowles, whose wrath Barkley correctly feared, wrote on Instagram, “Our water might not be blue, but it is still the beach and we love it!” (She included eight cry-laughing emoji and added “we got a great laugh,” seemingly signaling Beyoncé’s fans to stand down.)

“Our local water may not be crystal clear, but it’s not because it’s dirty,” Bob Stokes, the head of the Galveston Bay Foundation, told the Houston Chronicle. “Our water has a large amount of sediment in it. The currents push water from the Mississippi River to our upper Texas beaches,” which causes the “muddy” visuals, he told the paper, adding, “It is still very safe to swim and fish here.” 

Meanwhile, the Galveston Park Board and a member of the local city council defended the town to Houston Public Media without really addressing the state of the water. “Water conditions change day to day,” a park board statement read, adding that “Galveston is much more than a beach town.” Councilman David Collins joked that “if anyone understands being washed up, it would be Mr. Barkley.”

The Galveston Park Board did not immediately respond to a request by Front Office Sports for comment.

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