TNT commentator and Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley joined the Sports Insider show with Brian Berger on 750 AM The Game to discuss a variety of topics. Barkley is in Portland for former Portland Trail Blazer Brian Grant's fundraiser.
Here's a partial transcript of the interview. You can stream/download the audio here. Questions are paraphrased and in bold; Barkley's answers are word for word and in blockquote.
You've always liked Portland
"Well, I've always said I think that the Portland Trail Blazers have the best fans in the world. I actually tried to get traded to Portland when I was getting out of Philadelphia. It's an amazing city. I love coming here."
Shaq is joining you on TNT
"We're glad to have Shaq. No. 1 he is a wonderful person, he's a great friend of mine. We clearly don't know how it's going to work right now. Clearly we're not working. We don't know how it's going to work. We thought he was too much of a great personality to not try to sign. That was the key. We had to sign him. Clearly we didn't want him to go to the competition. We don't have no idea how it's going to work but Shaq was too good of a personality to turn down."
He just left the league so his perspective should be great
"Well, his perspective is some of these guys can't play dead. He's going to be very helpful. The NBA is not as good as I wish it could be. I'm not happy with all these young players are coming to the NBA before they're ready. We've got some really good players, some really great players. I wish these players would stay in school a little bit longer, I hate young players coming into the league who aren't ready."
Today's NBA compared to your days
"I think there's too many young players coming into the NBA before they are ready. I think it was much better in my day and I know a lot of young guys don't think that. Players right now are more concerned about marketing, being on ESPN making great plays, instead of being great players. That's the biggest difference for me."
Thoughts on Nike
"Nike has been an integral part of my life. Nike has been fantastic to me. That's one of the reasons I spend a ton of time in the Portland area, because of Nike. Phil Knight and Howard White, they are like part of my family and I will always be loyal to Nike, period."
The famous "I am not a role model" commercial
"Well, I think it's probably the most important thing I've done. When I made that commercial, we knew it would be controversial. I really made it for a lot of young black kids. Because unfortunately a lot of young black kids aren't getting their education. All they think about is playing in the NBA. This sports thing is a trillion dollar business basically because I worry about their education. They're not getting their education. I want them to stop thinking they are going to play in the NBA and go back to school and get their education. I'm very proud of that commercial."
A lot of NBA players struggle financially after they retire
"That's one thing I try to talk about. 75% of professional athletes are broke within five years of retirement. To be honest with you, it's because of their family and friends. You can't lend your family and friends money. That's the key. You have to learn to say no. A lot of guys don't know how to say no. You have to help them somewhat. Giving people money does not help them. All you become is an enabler. You have to learn to say no, you have to invest your money wisely and you have to save it. That's really the key... You don't have to feel bad, you don't have to feel guilty... That's really hard to do. People think it's easy."
You think the NBA will cancel its season
"Yeah, I believe that. I don't think they're going to play at all next year. I think it's really unfortunate. I think it's really unfortunate for the teams. The people who work for the arenas, they're going to be hurt the most. but I don't think they're going to play at all next year. That's sad. That makes me sad. But I believe the owners are in it for the long haul."
Why do you say that?
"Well, there's two reasons. No. 1 they do want to come up with a new economic model or situation. But also, we have this thing now where all these young kids in the NBA want to play on the same team. That's not good for competitive balance in the NBA. That's not good for some of these small market teams. That's the second reason. They do want to restructure their financial situation but we cannot be successful as a league if all the stars want to play on the same teams in major markets. That's not a good business model for the whole NBA."
Would you be in favor of a franchise tag like the NFL?
"I know they are trying to do something with franchise tags but we're going to have to do something because right now it's not good."
Thoughts about Tiger Woods
"I have not been able to help Tiger at all. I'm concerned about Tiger. I wish him the best. He's like a brother to me. I wish him the best. But I'm very concerned about him to be honest with you.
"I feel bad. I do, I just feel bad for Tiger. He's like a brother to me. He's making a lot of bad decisions and it's unfortunate.
"One of the keys to being successful is surrounding yourself with people who are always going to be honest. You've got to understand, most people who are around you [when you're famous] work for you or are just kiss asses... That's a major problem. You need to surround yourself with good people who are not going to kiss your ass and tell you what you want to hear. Who are always going to be honest.
"That's a really, really big problem especially when you're in the limelight. Because the people around you work for you, they want you to buy the dinners all the time, buy the drinks... you have to have a group around you that will tell you that what you're doing is wrong and help you make good decisions."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter