Is Barkley’s Cop Gesture Just Damage Control?

Charles Barkley’s stock is back on the rise.

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After taking a huge image hit when reports of an unpaid gambling debt surfaced out of Las Vegas, Barkley is now leading a charity effort to help the family of a slain Arizona policeman. No word on when they’ve scheduled Monte Carlo night.

Barkley called a Tuscon-area radio show for the family of the late Erik Hite, who was shot in the head during a pursuit earlier in the week. From TUSCON CITIZEN.COM:

[Barkley] said he heard about Hite’s death through friends in Arizona. Barkley, who played for the Phoenix Suns 1992-1996, was calling from Philadelphia but said he lives in Phoenix for about seven months

Barkley called the Johnjay and Rich morning radio show Wednesday on behalf of the Hite family to participate in the “Who Do You Know” contest.

The most well-known celebrity to call will win a Volkswagen Rabbit for the people he’s calling for, the announcers said.

If this were any other athlete (or Drew Rosenhaus), we could scream “image control” at the top of our lungs, but not Sir Charles. Barkley is such a genuinely lovable guy that loves people and being among them. And besides, it’s not like the title for a Rabbit will fit on the “00″ spot on the roulette table.