It's Better Than Being Wrong End of the Joke

Kissing the donkey -- been there, done that.

If Charles Barkley's plant of a kiss on a donkey on TV Thursday night looked somewhat familiar, think back to last year. After the Detroit Lions had stopped their 12-game losing streak, wide receiver Johnnie Morton, tired of Jay Leno's jibes, declared that Leno could kiss his behind.

Leno gamely invited him on the show, and just as gamely, kissed the donkey.

Last week, Barkley had said he would kiss studio partner Kenny Smith's "cheek" if Yao Ming of the Rockets ever scored 19 points. Smith wisely brought the donkey to the studio, and that footage was all over CNN Friday morning.

Smith joked beforehand, saying, "Sometimes even when you win, you lose."

Add Barkley: The National Post of Canada came up with a list of Barkley's greatest, and not-so-greatest moments, through the years, including:

* "While at Auburn University, one unspecified day, Barkley tells teammate Chuck Person he doesn't feel like practicing. 'He came into the gym,' Person recalled, 'got a ball and dunked it so hard that he pulled the whole support down. It landed on his head and he turned to me and said, 'Practice is over.' "

* "After Tonya Harding, the infamous figure skater, called herself the Charles Barkley of her sport, Barkley responded, 'My initial response was to sue her for defamation of character, but then I realized that I had no character.' "

Trivia time: Which year did Bobby Bowden reach his first bowl game as Florida State's coach?

More Yao: Houston Chronicle columnist John Lopez on Yao's 30-point, 16-rebound performance Thursday in a 103-90 loss at Dallas.

" ... By the end of the game, the NBA world saw that Yao is much more than a Chinese version of [Shawn] Bradley. It's taken Bradley 10 years in the NBA to become even a serviceable big man. It took Yao three weeks to prove he is miles better than Bradley."

Lasting legacy: Mick McCarthy, recently fired coach of Ireland's national soccer team, thinks he knows what people will remember about him -- his explosive break with central midfielder Roy Keane on the eve of this year's World Cup.

"When I've lost my teeth and I'm an old dodderer, people will still say, 'That's the [coach] who sent Roy Keane home from the World Cup,' " McCarthy said.

Soup to nuts: New York Post columnist Steve Serby on "the Chunky curse" -- endorsers Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner and Donovan McNabb have all been injured -- and worrying about Michael Strahan's well-being: "Surely you've seen the Chunky soup commercial where Strahan is riding the subway with his mother, Louise. He happens to be the perfect spokesman: He loves the stuff.

" 'There is no Chunky curse,' Strahan said. 'The only curse you make is the curse you make on yourself.' "

Trivia answer: 1977.

And finally: Defenseman Chris Chelios on Detroit Red Wing teammate Jiri Fischer's severe knee injury: "He'll be back 100%. He's down, but he'll be back. Look at me -- I'm almost 80 years old."

-- Lisa Dillman

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