NBA legend and TNT “Inside the NBA” broadcaster Charles Barkley is one of the most outspoken athletes in sports history. That reputation was further solidified with last night’s “60 Minutes” interview.
Barkley spoke with sports journalist Jon Wertheim on “60 Minutes” from his home in Leeds, Ala. During the interview, Barkley addressed athletes both retired and active, including his former friend Michael Jordan. The dissolution of the friendship, Barkley said, stems from criticisms he made as a broadcaster of Jordan when MJ transitioned from a player to an executive.
“I said I don’t think he has enough people around him who are going to tell him no, and he got really offended and we haven’t spoken. I’m going to do my job because I have zero credibility if I criticize other people in the same boat and not criticize my best friend,” Barkley said.
When asked if he would ever pick up the phone to call and apologize to Jordan, Barkley replied, “I got an ego too, Jon.” And then when asked if this situation would eventually be resolved, Barkley said, “He’s got my number.”
Barkley also addressed a current player, two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant, someone he has had spats with in the past. Speaking with “60 Minutes,” Barkley said Durant is a “great player” but is “very sensitive.”
“He’s part of this generation who think he can’t be criticized. He’s never looked in the mirror and said, ‘Is that a fair criticism?'” Barkley said.
Since the interview went live, Durant has responded to Barkley via Twitter. “This ain’t gettin tiring chuck? I’ll never respect the words that come out ya mouth fam just deal with it,” Durant wrote.
With March Madness underway, and name, image and likeness (NIL) deals a growing topic of discussion, Barkley also took aim at today’s college basketball game, labeling it a “travesty,” a “disgrace” and proclaiming that teams “can’t pay all of these players.” He also made a prediction.
“In the next three to five years, we’re going to have 25 schools that will dominate the sports because they can afford players and these schools who can’t afford or won’t pay players are going to be irrelevant,” Barkley said.
During the interview, Barkley also recalled times in his playing days where he was on the receiving end of rightful criticism. The retired athlete addressed a spitting incident in 1991 where he spat at a heckler during a game in New Jersey, which he was suspended for.
“I was playing to stick it to my dad, [high school Spanish teacher who gave him an F] Mrs. Gomez and some of the kids who had made fun of me instead of me just wanting to be great as basketball,” Barkley said.
He continued, “I was sitting in my hotel room and was like, You are the biggest loser in the world. I remember saying, This is it tonight. I’m only going to play basketball because I’m great at it and I love to play. I’m getting all the dirt off my shoulders. Mrs Gomez, bye. Dad, bye. That was really the turning point for me.”
On a much lighter note, Barkley also spoke about his daughter, Christiana, and recently becoming a grandfather to his grandson, Henry.
“It is by far the greatest thing that has ever happened to me in my life. It lives up to the hype,” Barkley said. “I want to spend time with him because I’m not morbid, I’m not upset. I’m on the back nine. I hope I’m at hole 10 or 11, but you never know, I could be on 17 or 18 so I want to spend as much time with him as possible and then when he gets older I want him to Google me. I hope he does some research on me. I’ll be long gone but I would like him to know that I accomplished some things in my life.”