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Charles Barkley picks up Lightning coaches' dinner tab

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Last year, Charles Barkley lends his support to the Chicago Blackhawks.Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Last year, Charles Barkley lends his support to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Charles Barkley sported a Blackhawks jersey during the Western Conference Finals last year, but the TNT basketball analyst may have switched allegiances for the Stanley Cup Final.

The NBA Hall of Famer recommended to Lightning coach Jon Cooper — whom he met last year in Los Angeles — that he and his staff dine at Chicago Cut ahead of Monday’s Game 3 win over the Blackhawks, and then took it a step further by picking up the tab.

“Cooper called him and asked where they should eat and Charles told him ‘For sure go to Chicago Cut,’” Chicago Cut managing partner David Flom told the Chicago Tribune. “Charles called me yesterday to make the reservation. He picked up the check for them.”

Barkley paid for the group of 20, and when he found out that ESPN hockey analysts Barry Melrose and Steve Levy were also dining at the restaurant, he reportedly put their bills on his credit card too.

Barkley refers to Cooper as “Coach Coop” and became a fan of his after they spent a couple hours together in 2014. The feeling was mutual.

“You have one perception of a guy on TV and I grew up watching him play,” Cooper said in April. “But after spending a few hours with the guy, I’ll be honest — he’s one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met. I marveled how he is with other people, the stories he told, how genuine he was. This is just the perfect example. I haven’t spoken to him in six months and for him to be following us and cheering for us, that shows the class of the guy. It’s awesome.”

charles barkley ,
nhl playoffs

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