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Charles Barkley is going to be a very popular man in Toronto after his latest proclamation.
While the Raptors are on the brink of elimination, trailing the Philadelphia 76ers 3-0 in their first-round series, Barkley has bold ideas for another major Toronto sports team.
“Let me tell you something about Toronto: I’m guaranteeing the Maple Leafs are going to win a series this year. The Maple Leafs are going to win a series this year,” Barkley yelled, as the broadcast teed up Game 2 of the Milwaukee Bucks-Chicago Bulls series.
— NHLonTNT (@NHL_On_TNT) April 21, 2022
Barkley’s peers weren’t nearly as impressed. You can hear Ernie Johnson mutter with faint disgust, “you’ve got the wrong sport.” Perhaps Ernie is all too aware of the fact that the Maple Leafs have lost five first-round series in a row and haven't escaped the first round since 2004.
This isn’t the first time Barkley has shown love to Toronto, and he’s always raved about the city’s culture and nightlife. Barkley to defeat the heavily favoured Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals, a prediction that has aged like fine wine.
Barkley has been a vocal hockey fan for years now. Throughout the 2017 playoffs, Barkley would routinely mention that he’d watch hockey during lulls in the NBA postseason and he was invited by Gary Bettman to attend Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Barkley’s love of hockey was so profound that even his colleagues parodied his newfound interest.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 6, 2017
During a 2017 appearance, Barkley credited Jeremy Roenick, Wayne Gretzky and Rick Tocchet for amplifying his interest in the game.
He’s been a real team player, too. During the inaugural year of the NHL on TNT partnership, Barkley has been a willing participant in cross-sport promotional events and even volunteered to be a goalie during shooting practice for none other than Gretzky himself.
— NHL (@NHL) October 14, 2021
With just over a week remaining in the regular season, the Maple Leafs are on track to play either the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning or their playoff nemesis Boston Bruins, who have been responsible for three of Toronto's last five first-round exits.
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