Charles Barkley may have made a grave error if he had visited a sportsbook before the NBA play-in game between the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat. His confidence in Miami’s victory was so strong that he even bet Shaquille O’Neal $1 billion that Erik Spoelstra’s team would emerge victorious. During the pregame TNT telecast, Barkley’s confidence was on full display when he went so far as to say the “Hawks stink,” and brazenly backed Miami when questioned by Shaq, saying, “Bet it. Whatever you want to, $1 billion [on Miami].”
When Kenny Smith suggested that Charles Barkley “should make sure he had a billion dollars to wager [against Shaq],” Barkley replied without hesitation, “I don’t have to make sure I have a billion because I am going to win.” However, Atlanta, the 5.5-point road underdogs, ended up upsetting the Heat 116-105, thanks to Trae Young’s team-high 25 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
Miami briefly took an early 2-0 lead on an opening basket by Jimmy Butler but never had the lead again for the remainder of the game. It’s reasonable to assume that if Barkley had indeed put his money where his mouth was prior to the game, his bank account would have taken a significant hit.