Since becoming a TV personality in 2000, Basketball Hall of Famer and current NBA on TNT analyst Charles Barkley has never been afraid to speak his mind.
The 11-time NBA All-Star and 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player has developed a reputation for his brutal honesty and candor over the past 21 years. He has shared his views on all sorts of things, from his support of gay marriage to his criticisms of LeBron James’ leadership skills.
In true character, “The Round Mound of Rebound” has sounded off on a multitude of topics this past week.
When discussing NCAA recruiting rules in college basketball during “Inside March Madness” on CBS, Barkley interrupted co-host Kenny Smith after Smith began to address the NCAA recruiting rulebook.
“Please stop, stop that rules stuff,” Barkley blurted out. “The NCAA, they’re like the Barney Fife” — a character in “The Andy Griffith Show” — “of the world. They do an awful job of administrating. We’ve got guys on tape [talking about] paying players three years ago and they ain’t said nothing about it.”
Barkley was almost certainly referring to coaches like Will Wade of LSU and the recently fired Sean Miller of Arizona, who have both faced multiple allegations of illegally paying and bribing high school recruits to join their respective teams.
Frankly, Barkley isn’t wrong.
Former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson allegedly accepted $20,000 in bribes and was recorded on FBI wiretaps in June 2017 saying Miller “was paying, or had promised to pay $10,000 a month” for eventual No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick Deandre Ayton, according to Yahoo Sports.
NBA sports agency middleman Christian Dawkins was also recorded saying, “Hey, he’s putting up some real money for them [racial slur].” FBI recordings presented in trial showed Dawkins saying he and Miller discussed payments for Ayton, according to ArizonaSports.com.
Wade’s federal investigation remains active, according to Sports Illustrated. Like Miller, Wade was also caught on FBI wiretaps speaking with Dawkins about paying recruits. According to Yahoo Sports, he can be heard conversing about his “strong-ass offer” for current LSU guard Javonte Smart. Similar conversations can be heard where Wade tries to recruit current Florida State big man Balsa Koprivica.
Barkley continued to put the NCAA on blast, adding that the NCAA administration takes no serious action to prevent cheating or scandalous behavior within athletic programs.
“The NCAA, they’re so far behind the times, they’re so reactive. It’s time for them to get their crap together,” Barkley said. “They say they want to stop cheating. They say they want to make everything more equal with the women because that was a travesty and a disgrace.”
Considering Barkley’s comments were made on a studio show sponsored by the NCAA, it’s safe to say “Sir Charles” ruffled a few feathers with his frankness on the matter.
Barkley then proceeded to call on his fellow broadcasters, players and coaches to help the NCAA fix its well-documented blemishes.
“We’re in bed with the NCAA,” Barkley said. “It’s time for us, we’re doing all the social stuff in the NBA, it’s time for us guys and coaches to say, ‘Yo man, y’all gotta do a better job.’”
Barkley also addressed the viral videos highlighting the difference in quality between the men’s and women’s weight rooms for the NCAA Basketball Tournament bubbles.
Viral photos and videos surfaced on social media during the tournament showing men’s weight rooms stacked with multiple amenities, including squat racks, machines and bench presses. In contrast, the women’s weight room bore a single rack with free weights and a few yoga mats.
The NCAA responded to the backlash by providing the women with the amenities they deserve.
Just five days after he turned heads with his comments about the NCAA, opinionated flamethrower extraordinaire Charles Barkley delivered another scorching hot take, this time aimed at politicians.
CBS aired a clip of former United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy addressing a crowd in Indianapolis, the site of the NCAA Tournament, to break the news of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
In typical fashion, Barkley let loose in response to the clip, taking aim at politicians and the social construct of race relations in the U.S. in 2021.
“I think most white and Black people are good people, I really believe that in my heart,” Barkley said Saturday afternoon on another “Inside March Madness” show. “But I think our system is set up where our politicians, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, are designed to make us not like each other so they can keep their grasp of money and power. They divide and conquer.”
In a time when the nation is more divided than ever because of the pandemic, fights for social justice and an exhausting election, Barkley’s words match the moment.
Americans should be uniting to help each other through the most difficult of times; instead, it seems that we’ve placed our morals at the door in favor of monotonous dispute and internal conflict.
People’s identities have become synonymous with that of their favorite politicians. They become so attached to these politicians that they view the “other” side as the enemy.
Barkley went on to say that these politicians don’t care about their supporters.
“We’re so stupid, following our politicians, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats,” Barkley said. “Their only job is ‘Hey, let’s make these people not like each other. We don’t live in their neighborhoods, we all got money, let’s make the white and blacks not like each other, let’s make rich people and poor people not like each other.’”
The word politics is composed of two words: poly, meaning many, and ticks, meaning parasitic blood-sucking creatures.
It’s often said that sports mirror society, and it seems the corruption and irresponsibility of the NCAA matches the deceptive nature of American politics.
In a time when people are more cautious with their words than ever, Barkley offers a sharp authenticity rarely seen in the mainstream media.
While he may not always be right, he hit the nail on the head with his latest set of viral comments.
By attacking both the NCAA and U.S. politicians, Barkley was able to showcase his unique ability to connect with people everywhere.
A quote from his 1993 book “Outrageous!” highlights the importance of Barkley, not only as a personality, but as a messenger to the country.
“I don’t create controversies,” Barkley wrote. “They’re there long before I open my mouth. I just bring them to your attention.”
Charles Barkley is the nation’s equivalent of the uncle who brings up sensitive topics at the Thanksgiving dinner table. While this role can be a controversial one, it’s also necessary.
Somebody has to say what everybody else is too scared to bring up, right?
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found playing video games, watching ‘90s Knicks games and arguing with people on NBA Twitter at 3 a.m.