Charles Barkley on why he truly loves the sport of hockey.

Charles Barkley on why he truly loves the sport of hockey.

The NBA legend laid it all out on Saturday night, leaving no doubt as to why he has fallen in love with hockey.

Jonathan Larivee

I've mentioned before what a wonderful ambassador for the sport of hockey that NBA legend Charles Barkley has become, and on Saturday night during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, Barkley went into detail about his love affair with the sport.

Barkley was a guest on the NHL on TNT panel and he explained that a great deal of his love for the sport came from the players themselves.

"I love your guys' sport, it is so awesome," said Barkley on Saturday. "I love the fact that you guys only care about winning the Stanley Cup, and that's what all sports should be."

Somewhat surprisingly, some of Barkley's praise of the players in the NHL almost came off as a criticism of the current state of the NBA at the same time.

"I really wanted to win the NBA championship but the hockey guys are the best at it," said Barkley. "'We just want to win the Stanley Cup, we don't care about load management, we're not trying to pack super teams,' that's why I love the sport so much."

It's hard to gauge just how large of an impact Barkley, an icon in his own sport and a massive television personality for the NBA to this day, will have on spreading his love of hockey to an audience that would have otherwise likely never given the sport a second thought, but he is truly turning into one of the sport's greatest ambassadors.