Charles Barkley Weighs In


If you are one of the dozen or so loyal readers of this column, you know we like to have a little fun here. And that doesn't seem like a half-bad idea lately, since your 401(k) is now about as empty as a politician's campaign promise, and your business model is more outdated than a Sarah Palin joke may be as of Wednesday.

This column may sometimes try a little too hard for a laugh, but there are some personalities in our world that you don't even need to bother writing jokes around. You just call them up, put in a quarter and watch them go.

There is probably no better example of this than Charles Barkley. Long before I aged into a shorter version of the “Round Mound of Rebound,” I grew up watching him score at will and tear down rebounds.

And now he tears down just about anyone and anything as an outspoken analyst for TNT's Inside the NBA—one of the most entertaining shows on TV whether you like hoops or not. And in his spare time—which he has more of since he swore off gambling earlier this year—he fancies himself enough of a political junkie that he wants to make a run for governor of Alabama in 2014. Seriously.

So last week I called up Barkley to have him weigh in. Here are excerpts from a couple of loud, bald fat guys talking hoops, politics and television.

Have you been watching a lot of election coverage?

I watch CNN; they're not fucked up like Fox. They are a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. I watch [Fox] a couple times when there is someone I want to see on there. But they're corrupt.

You have to say that; you work for a Turner network.

Hell no, I don't. I like Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper and John King. They at least try to give both sides.

Do you think Barack Obama is going to win?

I'm hoping. I do, but it's gonna be close.

So what have you thought of Sarah Palin so far?

She's attractive, but she doesn't speak to anybody, so we don't know much about her.

Think she has a TV career if politics doesn't work out?

We've got enough people on television already that don't know what they're talking about.

TV ratings were down for the World Series. Why?

The Nielsen ratings system sucks; they don't know how much people are watching. They have no idea. And no one wants to fix it; they don't have the balls to challenge the system. The people at CNN, TNT, ABC, you name it, they don't have the balls to step up and challenge it.

How about the NBA? How's the league looking this year?

The financial situation is gonna make it tough—attendance across the board will be down—and it's gonna be an interesting year for the league. I think the economy is going to go down a lot more, as well. Everything is starting to hit now just as the NBA season is starting, and we play so many games. That's a huge disadvantage. People can't afford to go to as many games, so that's going to hurt everywhere.

But in tough times people might stay home more and watch games, or your show.

Depends if they have cable. And I hope they all got boxes [for the digital transition]. This is to me an unknown quantity this year.

So are you thinking my hometown Minnesota Timberwolves against the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals?

Those aren't Timberwolves up there in Minnesota, those are little Chihuahuas. And the Knicks? Go ahead and bet on those two in the finals; good luck.