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Hextall 'honored' by Barkley shoutout, cites mutual respect

Len Redkoles / National Hockey League / Getty

Ron Hextall has good things to say about Charles Barkley - for the most part.

The Philadelphia Flyers general manager was asked Wednesday about the NBA analyst and former Philadelphia 76er's declaration Monday that Hextall was his favorite player ever.

"I laughed when I heard that," Hextall told reporters, according to CSN Philly's Enrico Campitelli. "We had a bit of a relationship back in the day. He was at a lot of our games obviously. There's a mutual respect there. I certainly liked the way Charles played - a hard game, very emotional, gave it all he had out on the court."

Barkley was invited to Nashville by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for Game 4 of the Cup Final on Monday night, where "The Round Mound of Rebound" crashed Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey's press conference and spoke glowingly of both Hextall and the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a whole.

"I started following hockey actually in Birmingham, Alabama," Barkley said. "They had a team called the Bulls back in the day. That was my first recollection of hockey. Then when I got to Philadelphia, my favorite hockey player of all time is Ron Hextall. I got to know him and Eric Lindros going to a bunch of Flyers games. Then Mike Wilbon, one of my mentors, takes me to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Blackhawks the last few years."

The Flyers GM said Wednesday he was more than just amused by the shoutout.

"I'm honored to be talked about by Charles, for sure."

Still, Hextall couldn't finish talking about Barkley without taking a shot at his notorious golf game.

"I do remember seeing Charles play (golf) and I thought to myself, 'Jeez, I'm not going to be the worst one out here today.'"

It's not surprising that the two Philadelphia sports heroes would have mutual respect for another considering the tenacity and occasional mean streaks they were both known for on the ice and the court, but Barkley's NHL fandom is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

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