Every Cinderella story needs a bitter, jaded, elderly hater. Charles Barkley is college basketball’s evil stepmother analog. One of the most maddening staples of every March Madness is TNT loaning out Charles Barkley for CBS’ NCAA Tournament studio show coverage where he dissects college hoops with the deftness of a butcher while pretending he’s a tastemaker or expert with something worth saying on the topic.
As part of that exchange though, CBS’ 60 Minutes broadcast aired an interview with Charles Barkley in his hometown of Leeds, Alabama on Sunday night after the Final Four was settled. The show’s segments featured an earnest look at sensory touch technology in prosthetics and an exposé on eBay execs harassing a couple running a small website.
Who asked for a Barkley interview?
Nestled in between those hard-hitters was Barkley giving the sport of basketball a terrible name. In Barkley’s version of the world, he hates everything it’s become. He railed against Kevin Durant’s sensitive disposition as a symptom of his generation, which is one of the most generic, catch-all criticisms of every generation from the one before it in civilized human history.
His calling Kevin Durant sensitive is ironic. Three years ago, he threatened politics reporter Alexi McCammond by whispering, “I don’t hit women, but if I did, I would hit you,” because he felt she humiliated him.
Barkley is the lead in one of TV’s most irreverent ensemble casts covering the NBA. But Inside the NBA is a comedy. As a television-viewing public, we’ve got to start treating Barkley like the entertainer he is. He’s not an astute analyst or an expert.
It’s hard to tell where angry Chuck begins and docile, reflective Chuck begins. We all have multitudes, but none of Barkley’s asinine commentary on the complex financial dynamics of NIL or the legislation to reform it, whatever that entails, is illuminating. As usual, his takes were bad. He parachutes into college basketball every March, then regales the audience with amusing stories about washing his jersey in the shower at Auburn and wearing it the next game. What goes unnoticed is that the majority of his college basketball analysis is insipid. During the 2018 Tournament, he didn’t know the difference between Purdue and Iowa.
An NIL take from Charles — this was never gonna end well
On 60 Minutes, Barkley also sank his teeth into the topic of name, image, and likeness compensation for student-athletes on a separate occasion from the studio.
In response to new NCAA President Charlie Baker’s comments about federal NIL compensation legislation, Barkley suggested the athletic directors and universities come together and bargain about a standard that will benefit them.
“Did he say we’re going to ask the politicians to help us?” said Barkley. “See that pisses me off already. Our politicians are awful people.” “I would actually go to people who actually care about basketball,” he added. “I would put a committee together. I would love for Clark [Kellogg] to be on the committee, get some coaches, get some players, and let’s try to work this thing out. We can’t ask these politicians nothing. Those people are awful people, Democrats and Republicans. They’re all crooks.”
Who’s going to tell him that the head of the NCAA he is gullible enough to believe can rig their own NIL standards internally is a former governor? I couldn’t think of a worse optic or result than the NCAA suppressing athlete compensation to make the lives of their programs easier. The only ones who would wind up getting stuffed in that scenario are the athletes. As it turns out, the NCAA’s member schools’ exploitation of student-athletes is a feature, not a bug for Barkley, who blamed NIL for ruining college basketball.
Here are the footnotes of Barkley’s pocket-watching and Playa hatin’ comments…
“It’s a travesty and a disgrace, I’m so mad now how we can mess up something that’s so beautiful.”
“We can’t play all these players.”
These players are already getting paid. The only problem college basketball has is catering to the casual fans because top NBA prospects would rather get paid to develop in the G League or Overtime Elite. Barkley’s fear-mongering over NIL is actually counterproductive to his cause for college basketball.
“In the next three to five years, we’re going to have 25 schools that’s going to dominate the sports because they can afford players and these schools who can’t afford or don’t pay players are going to be irrelevant.”
This year’s Final Four consists of Florida Atlantic, San Diego State, UConn, and a Miami team that is financed by the CEO of LifeWallet. But they’re the anomaly. UConn is the only program left that has reached a Final Four before, and their last one was nine years ago. I get that this interview was filmed prior to the tournament, but the tournament has been rife with parity for years.
Worst of all is that Barkley is a hypocrite, who admitted to taking money from agents during his three years at Auburn. For what it’s worth, during his stint as a Tiger, Auburn only played in one NCAA Tournament. That type of hypocrisy is almost performance art.
Barkley was being truthful 30 years ago, when he explained that he was not a role model. His counsel should whistle in one ear and out the other. The only athlete in this fractured culture whom I can agree was a role model is Secretariat, because at least he had the wisdom not to bump his gums on subjects he had little to no expertise in.
Follow DJ Dunson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex