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Charles Barkley NBA Finals oxygen mask video sparks false claims

Jan 28, 2024

May 20, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Former NBA player and current TNT television personality Charles Barkley prior to game one of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

No, Charles Barkley did not need breathing assistance in Denver while doing television work for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

False claims spread about Barkley and fellow analyst Grant Hill over a pregame bit the pair did for NBA TV that involved them wearing oxygen masks. The stories started when Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints shared a video of the two on set wearing the masks.

Lmao Charles Barkley and Grant Hill put on oxygen masks because of the altitude 😂

— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) June 1, 2023

A number of websites saw this and took it to mean Hill and Barkley were having legitimate breathing issues in the Denver altitude. There was just one problem: the entire bit was a joke, and it is obvious from watching the NBA TV segment. Barkley wasn't even wearing his mask right, and both he and Hill removed them within the first 30 seconds of the segment.

Here's the NBA TV view of Barkley and Grant Hill wearing oxygen masks. Clearly a bit

— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) June 2, 2023

Ironically, Barkley even takes aim at the narrative that the altitude affects visiting players during the segment, calling it "the stupidest thing ever."

Anyway, Barkley and Hill were both clearly fine. This is not the first time this season Barkley's state has been questioned at a major event, though.