It's not your typical ESPN or Fox Sports commentary show where an anchor talks about a player's "tenacious tenacity". It's a show that presents itself as a place where four friends talk about a shared interest.
To accomplish this, they need to be comfortable talking to each other without being confined to the sports equivalent of political correctness - to have unconstrained degrees of freedom in criticism, humor and general skylarking. This happens oftentimes to the point of controversy, with Charles usually being involved at the center of any such controversy.
This story is beautiful, but to anyone that is a fan of Charles Barkley, it is unsurprising. He's always been a beacon of genuineness through his time as a player, as a commentator and this article simply extends that same light to his personal life.
I love reading / watching sports.... sports shows that aren't the sports them-self are almost always so bad and wonky.
Inside the NBA is a noteworthy example of what it should be.
It's because they are almost always forced board-room designed politically correct arrangements of hosts: the old white guy with plenty of industry experience, the sassy girl who keeps the guys in check, and third is usually an ex-athlete (usually black) guy OR (more often on radio) the "wild and crazy" guy who says wacky stuff.
They aren't chosen for their chemistry together, existing friendships, or w/e else makes people gel... but instead for fitting some Hollywood-esque pre-existing model that checks off all the checkboxes.
NBA inside works because they have a couple of rare personalities you wouldnt normally find in the usual talking-head talent pools with Shaq and Barkley plus a really great "old industry experienced guy" Ernie Johnson... (and honourable mention neutral guy Kenny Smith).
We had a nice conversation about NYC, vegas, gambling, friendship, etc. along with a number of tequila shots. He was extremely down to earth while not pretending like he was anything other than a world famous former basketball player.
"The game starts off in 2041, twelve years prior to the main part of the game, in "post-cyberpocalyptic Neo New York". Charles Barkley performed a powerful dunk called a Chaos Dunk at a basketball game, inadvertently killing most of the people in attendance. As a result, basketball was outlawed and many basketball players were hunted down and killed. In 2053, another Chaos Dunk is performed in Manhattan, killing millions. Barkley is blamed for the Chaos Dunk and is hunted by the B-Ball Removal Department, led by Michael Jordan."
(It just gets weirder from there)
But the difference here is one guy is a celebrity and probably had a very very busy day to day schedule. Even then, he'd make time to meet up with Mr. Wang when they were in the same town.
I think the story is interesting because the two men came from very different backgrounds, yet discovered lots of common ground (minority skin color, achieved success despite modest upbringing, pride in their children). It's a story of a good friendship, one where you'd deliver a glowing eulogy at the other's funeral, if it ever came to that. I mean, I'm not sure how many folks I have outside of my own family that I'd have enough to say to deliver a eulogy. Maybe I need to make more friends?
I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect famous people — or anyone, for that matter — to stay in touch with literally anyone who wants to befriend them. Our attention and time is a finite resource, we have to make hard choices and commitments about who we give to and withdraw from. This is a story that wouldn’t happen without celebrity. Not just because Mr. Wang would not have otherwise recognized and talked to Barkley in their chance encounter, but seeing Barkley on TV continually helped keep the familiarity going, even if it was a mostly one-way street.
I bet Barkley gets many solicitations for his attention, and on the surface Wang doesn’t seem any different than other fans. But I think Wang showed his the genuineness of his friendship by showing up for the funeral service for Barkley’s mom. Anyone, fan or friend, could have seen the news and booked a flight to be there. That Wang dropped whatever work he was doing to be there for someone who he wasn’t close to (socially/geospatially) was a strong sign of how much he cared about Barkley.
It is also "traditional" celebrity interaction. Where the celebrity achieved status from professional skill building and achievement and largely unknowable through social media. So to know this person or have photos with them is a more scarce and unusual thing.
Wheras new celebrity status can be achieved through social media with no form of measurable achievement based on traditional skill building.
What's interesting about celebrity now is how many more people can be known and what skills can make you be known. Like, being beautiful and able to do finger dances on tiktok.
I'm not sure why, and it seems to me like I must be in a minority. I'm pretty sure every other upper-middle class person has one or two wealthy and/or famous friends. All wealthy and famous people can't only have friends that are wealthier or more famous than themselves, the math doesn't work out.
Instead, I see this story as an example of a very NPResque genre: upper middle-class parents often get cancer and die, surprisingly almost as often (proportionally) as the parents of people who do not work for NPR. But in the case of the children of the upper middle-class it probably hurts more because it's the first significant suffering they have ever experienced.
edit: I also assume it's pretty difficult to reject a story about a dead parent's "simple rules for living," interesting celebrity-filled early life with some artistic potential gone unfulfilled due to the choice to settle down and have children, or their immigrant story. They have a sentimental appeal for some readers/listeners, and your sad staffer won't be turning one in every week.
This sentiment is common to all parents across race, culture, and religion. It is one of the things that makes us human. So uplifting to hear how these two very different people connected over that.
One thing that I always appreciated about Barkley growing up was his ability to be sincere and relatable; he speaks from the heart.
Of course it could be a different Lin Wang working in this area, but it looks like he has a few patents for new absorbent materials and related things [0, 1].
I read a great article about how there is continual pressure the shrink the shelf space they take from super markets, and that has led to some pretty interesting breakthroughs in science.
I can't find the article now of course.
Charles Barkley is one of the few celebrities I respect. He believes in diversity of thought.