tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera December 20, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm EST
>> sir charles, the round mound of rebound. he is one of the best players and biggest personalities to ever play the game. basketball star charles barkley was a dominant force on the hardwood, but he's also known for his entertaining and sometimes controversial commentary, from sports to politics and social issues, he everything. i sat down with the nba legend termed emmy award winning analyst when he was in new york. >> well, with the nba season starting, i know you are in hand demand. first of all thank you for taking some time to talk to al jazeera. i remember years ago when you were still playing, it seemed
like you were almost offended as people only saw you as an athlete because you thought there was more to who you were as a person. >> i tell these guys, basketball is what you do. it's not who you are. you should never -- the notion that what you are looking at, whether you are a ball player or a baseball player, that minimizes who you are. >> uh-huh. >> it's what you do. you know, it's not who you are. the motion that you let a sport event dictate the type of -- you know, like that's all i am -- >> right. >> i have known that from the beginning. i hope to be a good person. >> let's talk about racism south. >> uh-huh. >> it was beyond the jim crow era but it was very segregated in parts of the south when you grew up. >> yes. >> you have obviously evolved beyond that environment, travel traveled the world. where do you see this racism? >> one of the greatest things i
did, i wrote a book x amount of years ago called "what the who is afraid of a large black man." i have had 30 companies made make my booed mandatory writing. i wanted to write a positive book on race because i consider racism the biggest cancer of my lifetime. we have to let this race stuff go and start judging. it's always going to be there. but you can't lump a whole group, any group, together. so you have to judge every person their own individual merits. >> when you talk about racism, some people think you are just people. >> no, because it's not. u get exxon fused. they make it black or white but i live in arizona, and, you know, they really made -- treated the hispanics unfairly, rounded them up, trying to, you know, deport them all.
some of those people are really amazing people who work really, really hard, really, really hard. i admire the hispanics living in arizona. dallas a glass ceiling for women in the business world, you know. i tell people, i've been pretty well off financially doing nationwide commercials since 1984. so we are close to 30 years 99.9% of the meetings i go to, there are no women, no blacks and no hispanics when i am meeting with quote, unquote the upper echelon of these companies i deal with. and i am very -- i think about that when i am in there. and i always tell me people, we've got to make sure we -- inclusionary. >> right. >> i give you an example. my financial advisor is this old white guy from the south.
i love him like a father. i told him, i said, i need you to hire a black guy. he said, what do you mean? i said, i need you to hire a black guy in this. he said i am not racist. >> i said, you are not. i love you like a father but you have a secretary. you hired your song. you hired a couple of your friends. and i said, one of the reasons this systems of haves and have-nots keeps going is there are some people who are racist but a lot of people who are successful, they hire their friends or friends of theirs. >> hire people they know? >> yeah. you can't -- i understand that to a certain degree. but it's up to you. when you got the key to the castle, you are job is to bring possible. >> some of the greatest discrimination we have seen lately in american society has to do with gays and lesbian s. >> jason collins came out as the first active player in the nba to say he was gay. >> yeah. >> you have said that you
probably play with gay players. >> everybody has. everybody has played with a gay player and everybody has worked with a gay person. you know, i am a big proponent of gay marriage because i always talk, you know, being black, i am a really -- it sucks when racism rears its ugly head. you see it all the time. you see it all the time. i want to be inclusionary in all walks of my life so if a guy is gay, god bless him, i want nothing but the best for him. you know, and i was proud of jason because you don't want anybody to have to hide their identity. >> right. and you look at the way it's played out. seemingly to me, that the majority of the people who are against gay marriage always site some type of religion. >> yeah. >> whether it's christianity? >> yeah. >> islam, what-have-you. you have come out against religion in terms of at least how people claim to be christian at some time only when it's arguing. >> you
know, it's like being from the south, being baptist >> they talk about don't judge other people. but they judge everybody. it really frustrates me. like,ton to be honest with you, he is one of those bible thumpers. i don't know where i am on religion. i believe there is a supreme being who has given me special things in my life. but i think he would be like inclusive in and all right with everybody if he is this supposedly -- like i say, i don't know. i don't get in if it's a he or a she, if she is black whatever. i think if there is a supreme being, he or she, however you phrase it would be like i love everybody. so that's the way i look at it. >> president obama has been
criticized about his religion candidate? >> that's only because he is black. you know, listen, we can sugar coat it how we want. some people are not going to be happy with a black president. >> they claim he is muslim. >> first of all. they don't black. >> is healthcare the greatest achievement much his presidency? >> i will say this. i don't know all of the ins and outs of obamacare. >> hum? >> or the health affordable act. everybody needs healthcare. >> that's all i care about. you know, like i say, i tell people, we can sit here and argue about obamacare healthcare act, everybody needs healthcare. >> that's the only way. >> that's all i really care about. in any program that can get more
people healthcare, i am for it. >> you know, i am for it. >> that's all. >> that's the way i explain it the best way. office? >> no, because, you know, the political process has changed so much, michael, where these republicans and democrats, they just fight over everything. that's there is not a single personify with on every subject. >> that's silly. shutting down the government because, you know why? it doesn't affect them. >> right. >> it doesn't affect them. i look at these people. they are real people out here. you know, that's the one thing. i never want to get to the point in my life because i am blessed to have a great life that i don't care about people. once i lose that, it's time for me to die. >> you think there is a disconnect? >> a huge disconnect. america is the greatest place in the world. there is a huge disconnect have-nots. obama. i think he is the first president since bill clinton -- and we can go, democrat,
republican, however you want to phrase it, he has tried to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. and because there is a gap between the rich and the poor. it has gotten wider and wider and wider. as a guy who is in that one person, i never want to forget about those 99%. those people are working hard, too. the one thing i hate about rich people is they actually think they work harder than poor people. they don't. >> people hear a lot of your television. >> hum. >> we will talk about that next. >> okay. ad guests on all sides of the debate. and a host willing to ask the tough questions and you'll get... the inside story ray suarez hosts inside story weekdays at 5pm et / 2pm pt only on al jazeera america
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>> and join the conversation online @ajamstream. >> welcome back. you are watching "talk to al jazeera" with charles barkley, nba hall of famer and television extraordinary. 16 years playing. now you are about to enter your 14th season as a broadcaster? >> 15th. one. i worner: do you have that same level of excitement as you did as a player or is it a completely different scenario? >> totally different things. >> okay. playing. it's the greatest rush to be out there playing and have a whole arena or a whole city giving them joy. there is nothing like that.
this is the first time probably in a while i have been excited about the season. >> really? >> yeah, because this year, you know, the last probably five or six years, somewhere in that range, there is like three teams that had a legitimate shot to win. i believe 18 that has a listen it mat shot to win the championship this year. you have to stay healthy and need a break here or there. i look at it like in the east, i think miami is very good. i think indiana is very good. i think brooklyn is very good and chicago. it wouldn't surprise me if either one of those four teams won the east. in the west, you have the clippers, oklahoma city. you've got the golden state warriors and houston rockets. i wouldn't be surprised if any one of those four teams won. so this is really cool to go into the season with that many teams and cities have hopes for winning the championship. >> even though there are that many chance, it seems like
everyone has given it back to lebron james and dwayne wade. was it when lebron and the heat run? >> i think they have, any more you have a guy like lebron one of the 10 greatest basketball players in my -- that i have ever seen. i think number 1 it's not like they were a jaugernaut. they won seven gaze and should have lost to the spurs. are they the favorite? yeah but not the prohibitive favorite. i think greg odon is going to be important because you see when they play against big teams, they struggle. greg weldon hasn't played in three years. if he is going to make them a much bigger team. it's a big. >> is it good for the league to have one dominant team over a long period of time, or would you like more even keel chance of different teams wining? do you need that parity? >> i think parity is good for the game. i don't like -- you know, i don't want us to be like baseball where you got five
teams that can win it and 25 teams. >> you know uh-huh. >> when i played the nba, i played 16 years, the celtics won. the lakers won. the pistons won. the rockets won. bulls won and the spurs won. so, it was spread out. even as dominant as the bulls were winning six championships, it still was spread out. 1, 2. the spurs one on for, the rockets won 2. it was spread out. i think it's better for the over all game because these pays pay an exhorn tant amount of money to watch us play. i want them to have hope. the players got a great life. i want the fans to feel like, you know what? if i am going to pay an exsorb tant amount of money, my team has a chance. >> you said you were disappointed in the over all
playa in the league it seems as though the personalities of the game have gotten bigger, the overall talent level has gone down. do you agree with that? and how is that affecting the league as a whole? >> it what happened was we started draftingly players too young. we went through a period when er the nba wasn't very good drafting high school players. guys out of high school are not ready to play in the nba. you know, they are not ready. now, i still don't like us drafting a kid after one year. >> that's still better than high school. it takes -- it's a process where player. >> there are exceptions to that. >> there are that's my >> okay. >> kobe. >> yes. >> lebron. >> yes? that. >> yes? >> those guys coming out of high school aren't those guys. >> that's a great question and great point. listen, it's an interesting dilemma because there are guys.
and let's be honest. kobe bryant struggled in the beginning. not lebron. kevin garnett struggled. lebron is the only player i ever seen who came out of high school who was really ready for the nba. but the problem, michael, is every kid is coming out now. >> it's not the kids' fault. no? >> i don't know if there is a right or wrong answer. i would love these kids to stay in coschool for two years. there is no right or wrong answer. they are coming out but they are not ready for the nba. it puts certain teams at a disadvantage because they have to take those kids. it's the team's fault. well, those are the players we have to draft. >> they could draft kids from college that have been more seasoned. what the fear is that they are going to miss a kid that came out of high school. >> that's the fear, but that's not on the kid? >> but the probably with that is most kids that are that good in college aren't going to stay anywhe anyway. those kids are not physically ready at 19
like i say lebron james is the only player i seen who came out of high school who was physically, mentally and emotional lady really. >> david sturn is about to retire as the nba commissioner, obviously the commissioner when you played. is he the best commissioner that american sports has ever seen? >> obviously i am biased. we came into the nba together in 1984. i think he is the best commissioner in any sport because it's interesting, you memory. >> very short. >> when david started in the nba, it was considered quote unkwon quote a bunch of black guys who were druggies. it was on tape delay and things like that. now, i think i saw a stat when david stern came into the nba, the average salary was $250,000. now it's $5.5 million. this 30-year window. we are in 200 countries.
we are on major networks, multiple nights a week. he gets that. >> you said basketball, everything you have is because of basketball. explain that beyond money. >> when i say basketball has given me everything in my life, it's not even about the money. it's just about -- it's just been my job. >> uh-huh? >> i just turned 50 arnold i had such an amazing remarkable life because of basketball. the money is a blessing. i always said it, the money is a blessing but i am a cad kid from alabama growing up in the projects on welfare and now 50 years later, i have been all over the world. i have been to countries many many countries. that. >> do you feel like you owe the game something? >> i think everybody owes the game something because we make
so much money, and i don't want to -- because i -- when you -- you are like it ain't like you work harder than somebody either. like a teacher works a lot harder than me. she is never going to make the money i make. a policeman is going to make the same thing withblem apolicemen and firemen. their job is so much more important and significant. for me to be able to dribble a basketball and make millions of dollars is kind of crazy to be >> uh-huh. >> so i do 0 the game something. like i say, it ain't like i deserved to make that type of money either. i am very realistic. i am not hating on these young guys. some of these guys making 20, $25 million a year. it ain't like they were better than michael jordan or karim or bill russell. they were just born at the right time. something. >> but in a free market society, whatever the public wants, people have a chance to earn income from that.
>>. >> yes. >> television, whatever. >> uh-huh. >> these kids make this money? >> god bless them. but that's why you owe the game something. you have to be smart enough to know that you know what? i was just born at the right >> uh-huh. >> and that's why you give back. listen. i don't begrij any of these guys for how much money they make bi i hope they are smart enough to give back to the game. 70% of athletes go broke. >> that's a travesty. >> that's a travesty. that should not happen. a guy working 9:00 to 5:00 with a wife and four kids who barely make ends meet can have financial struggles. guys making 5, 10, $15 million a year should never go broke. >> you are watching "talk to al jazeera" i am michael reeves here with nba ledgendand
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>> welcome back to talk to al jazeera with charles barkley, nba hall of famer. >> can you be they are giving me trophies for t.v. >> there will be an entire generation who don't remember you as a player but will personality? >> that's weird. >> it's weird because i remember you as a player? >> yeah. >> growing up. if you think about it, too, you really are this generation's howard cosell? >> without the toupe. >> without the toupe. you say what you think is the truth and sometimes it's polarizing but everyone wants to
hear what you have to say relative to a game? >> as i told you earlier, i think being on television i take great pride in it. there are not many black guys on television, to be honest with you. there are not. you look at all of the news shows, you know. there is very few black journalists. there is more now. but there never used to be any. when i get on television, i know i am representing black people. i tell them one thing. i am going to be honest. i am going to be fair. you are not going to like everything i say. but given this power, and it's a tremendous power, i am go to be fair. people. >> right. >> because you can't slant your opinion for people that like you because i figured out this a long time ago. it doesn't matter what you say.
regardless. >> yeah. >> regardless. i remember, i remember going back when i was playing for the 6ers, i would think god for having a great game. they would get 50 call, tell him atheists. i was like, i just thank god. i wasn't doing anything. >> what do you think it's like to work with you? co-worker? >> i think i am a great co-worker. >> why? >> because i am very easy. um you know, listen -- question? >> i know what the other guys are like. >> you compare yourself to them? >> i don't ask for a lot. i want to show up and make people laugh when they are watching basketball. the fine line is if you want to talk about your team, let's talk about your >> uh-huh. >> but if you want to laugh, i am going to make you laugh. so, i think i am pretty easy to work with because i am not demanding. all i want is my diet coke on the set, which i am addicted to diet coke. i am trying to stop. >> you need to work?
>> i want my cup full with diet coke. i want to have fun the rest of the time. i think i am pretty ease to work with. so all of the success you have had through the years, basketball and now entertainment and television, a lodge time ago, you said you were not a role model. >> uh-huh. >> as you have gotten older, do you feel you are a role model? not just because you are a bask basketball player but do you take your platform now to give kids a reason to do something greater than they thought they could? >> listen, if you are blessed enough to go to the nba or the nfl, god bless you. i am happy for you. but 99.9% of these young black kids had to get a real job. and i wanted to start that debate about you are not going to play pro sports get your dn education. we can argue about college paying and this and that but you
kids need to get your education. the bottom line is, the majority of these black kids are not getting an education. the system is still going to make billions of dollars. >> true. >> those football stadiums will sell 100,000 every weekend in college and those kids, a couple of them are going to go to the nfl. a couple of kids are going to go to the nba, but these systems in place, march madness will make hundreds of millions of dollars a year. it's frustrating for me these young black kids are not arguing about the system. we can argue about the system all day long but the system is what it is. they are going to make billions kids. >> that's why i started debate on the role model commercial. >> quickly. fun. is anyone playing the game today as good as you at your position? if you played today, what would you average? >> 20 and 10. >> all? more. no you game, the game is easier now.
the game is easier now because, you know, they've changed the rules. you can't hand check. >> softened it? >> softened the game up. it would be ease for us older -- play. >> could you be a coach? >> no, because i think people ask me the biggest difference between today and my day. i am not sure these guys want to be great players. they are making so much money napes. in my day and everybody talk about old against young. they made you earn all of that money before they gave it to you. now, they give it to you on potential. and i am not sure in the back of your minds, if you are making all of this money, you are on t.v. everywhere, if you have the same drive. >> charles, i appreciate the time. >> any time. >> any success -- continued success to you. >> proud of you. keep doing your thing. >> charles barkley talking to al jazeera. thanks a lot.