There’s never been a dull moment with Charles Barkley. Whether he’s sharing his analysis on life, pop culture or sports, it’s most always a treat. Sir Charles is never afraid to be blunt with his assessment of the college game, but it’s been a pleasant surprise to see him stay true to his guns while working the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Here at SRI he’s naturally become one of our regular ‘go-to-guys’ for his tendency to say what most in the media are thinking but are too afraid to say. Barkley has been all over the NCAA tournament this season with the new television deal landing CBS Sports a partnership deal with Turner Sports. With games airing on CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV there was never a dull moment where Barkley and the gang didn’t have something interesting to add even if the commentary was for the less than two minutes. I don’t think TV executives or fans of the game are at all upset about messing with a previously long-standing tradition this year. And Chuck Wagon has a lot to do with that. Throughout the NCAA tournament Barkley ripped the Big East conference for being overrated to Rick Pitino. He dubbed the conference the “Big Least” or “Small East” that couldn’t win 5 games in 5 days. Barkley has no issues with the teams headed to the Final Four.
He feels you’re not a basketball fan if you can’t get excited for VCU, Butler, Kentucky and UConn. Each of their respective runs to the Final Four is a great story in and of itself. Best of all though is Barkley’s comments about having no idea where truTV is on his cable package while doing the post-game commentary for the channel the other night. He didn’t stop there though. He followed up with his claim that truTV should really be called the “white entertainment network,” because it features some of the craziest shows he’s ever seen in his life.Ladies and gentlemen look forward to seeing Charles on your television sets this weekend in Houston for the Final Four as his goal is to find truTV on his hotel television before it’s too late. Charles Barkley joined Razor and Mr.T on KNBR in San Francisco to discuss if Rick Pitino ever told him to pipe down about his thoughts on the Big East being overrated, VCU making the Final Four, whether he thinks the field of 68 might as well just be expanded to 96, more teams deserve to be in the tournament if the controversial VCU were to win it all, his thoughts on the upcoming Final Four matchups, if he believes college basketball should move the 3-point line back to NBA distance, and last but certainly not least, his thoughts on the ‘white man’s network’, truTV.
If at any point did Rick Pitino say enough of ripping the Big East?
“No, you know, he [Rick Pitino] was like’ you know it’s never personal’. I think one of the reasons… you know our job on the TV and radio is to be honest and fair. And a team like VCU as you said, shouldn’t even be in the tournament. You know, they’re talking about Butler only playing in the Horizon League — that’s just east coast bias trying to talk to us into thinking everything on the east coast is the best thing since sliced bread. It’s really not to be honest with you.”
VCU made it to the Final Four in the 68-team field? Maybe they should open the field to 96 teams?
“Well, there are several things that bother me. You know one of the early criticisms of the NBA guys was that we weren’t going to be watching college basketball which is total B.S. Clearly they made sure we had tapes on every team. They sent us stats weekly, told us where every team was. My biggest complaint was, so wait a minute, who picks out the tournament teams? The athletic directors at these colleges. In my opinion….so wait let me get this straight… you’re telling me athletic directors around the country have really watched more basketball than we have? Which is crazy. We have on record two of those A.D.’s saying ‘they only watch the teams that came to play their school.’ Of course they’re not watching a lot of college basketball. To me, you know, I have a problem with certain guys saying teams don’t deserve to be in the tournament. I think you can say, you know what, I disagree, I thought this team should be in, but I don’t think you should say this team does not deserve to be in the tournament. All those guys are really eating crow now on VCU. Jay Bilas is taking a beating and rightfully so. In the meantime it was defensible that VCU deserved to be in the tournament. This team is…first of all…even if you just look at them at ‘the eye test’ you can see they got a lot more talent than some of these teams in the tournament, a lot more talent.”
If VCU wins the tournament maybe there are more teams out there that deserve to be in? Although I had always felt that the first round games were throwaway games that needed to go?
“My biggest problem was those teams that quote unquote got left out. Hey listen if you’re hanging your hat on we’re number sixty-eight you need to shut the hell up. Listen if you are one of the last three or four teams in and you feel like you got left out nobody walks around saying ‘We’re number sixty-five!’ If you’re on the bubble, you’re on the bubble. It’s up to the selection committee — whether they get it right or wrong, that’s their prerogative. But if you don’t want to worry about it don’t put yourself in the conversation, like, ‘hey we’re number sixty-five, sixty-six, sixty-seven, sixty-eight.’ Handle your business. I mean Virginia Tech — they beat the number one team in the land in Duke. They come out the next game at home and get smoked by twenty. Then to show you they were really upset about it they come out the next game at home and lose by twenty. So don’t get on TV and whine and complain after you beat the number one team and you know you’ve been on the bubble three years in a row, then come out the next two games at home and lose by twenty. Then get on TV and complain about it? It’s ridiculous.”
What do you make of the Final Four games coming up?
“I had Arizona going to the Final Four. Going into Sunday, going into the weekend, I had a chance to get three out of four. I had Kansas going, I had Kentucky going, I had Arizona going. So going into the weekend I felt really good. I lost the other because I thought Pitt…actually I listened to us and thought all these teams can’t stick. Maybe these guys knew what they were talking about. If you look at my bracket the two teams that tricked me the most… you know TV is so powerful cause I’m starting to think I’m looking at these teams with my eyes and I’m saying this team is not very good, but everybody keep telling me they’re good. It was Louisville and Pittsburgh. I had them going…I had Pittsburgh going to the Final Four and I had Louisville going to the Elite 8, so they killed one half of my bracket, but on the other bracket I had Kentucky going and I saw Arizona play quite a bit. I noticed throughout the season they kept getting better. They had that guy — that [Derrick] Williams kid who is a flat out stud. I said ‘okay, I like the Connecticut team cause they have a stud. I love watching Arizona play. Same thing with Connecticut.’ My thing with Kentucky…I think John Calipari, to watch him coach, his team got so much better throughout the season you know at one point they kept losing. I was like ‘you know they’re so close.’ But at some point it kicked in. Once I watched them play in the SEC tournament. I watched their last two games. Are they going to the Final Four? It absolutely kicked in. I actually felt pretty good about tournament picks going in. Kansas just got exposed at the guard position. Those guys were scared to death, scared to dribble. They couldn’t make a shot. Their guards just got exposed. You know the Robinson kid didn’t play well, the twins played alright, one of them played great, one of them had too many turnovers. It came down to the guards being two for twenty-two. You’re not going to beat anybody shooting two for twenty-two.”
The three-point line has huge impact in who’s winning and losing these the NCAA tournament games. Many teams have won these games and not shot well from the field. I feel they should move the three-point line back to the NBA level. Do you think they should move the three-point line back to give these kids a challenege?
“Well two things: number one I wish they would make these kids stay in college for two years. I hate the one-and-done thing. I hate that, but you know what man? I got no problem with the Final Four. It’s really four amazing stories and the three point line really helped a couple of those teams get there. You know I’m not one of those people who I gotta see North Carolina, and Duke, and Connecticut, and I like Duke. If you can’t get excited… and first of all I’m a basketball fan….if you can’t get excited with VCU, with what Butler has done, and Kentucky, even Connecticut — they made some big threes — but if you can’t get excited about these smaller schools getting to the tournament and beating some of these big schools. Hey these big schools they can shoot threes too. I don’t mind upsets. You know I’ve been sitting around all today listen to all these people tell me you know what are the ratings going to be between VCU and Butler? Let me tell you something: if you can’t get excited…. and I’m not talking about this because I’m broadcasting the game and all that other stuff… if you can’t get excited about what Butler has done and what VCU has done, you are not a fan. This notion in the NBA ‘well we don’t like the San Antonio Spurs because they don’t’…let me tell you something if you don’t like the San Antonio Spurs you’re an idiot. You don’t know anything about basketball. You hear that argument every year if San Antonio does well they’re not good for ratings. Let me tell you something: you don’t know anything about basketball. You’re not a basketball fan if you don’t like watching the Spurs play. They’re good for basketball. Let me tell you something those kids at Butler and VCU man they’ve been fantastic. They gave an exciting, think about Butler, I mean how many buzzer beaters can you get in a single playoff run? It’s been awesome. Both of those games are toss ups to me. I’m going to take VCU and Kentucky, but both of those games to me are toss ups.”
What followed you on truTV after the post-game analysis?
“Well once I found out we were going to be on truTV. They actually have a show called…first of all…truTV is really the white BET, truTV is white entertainment television. Dude, it’s some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen in my life. They got this one show called ‘Lizard Towing,’ Well they got these two big old boys from the south who be repossessing people’s cars and they end up chasing them down the street, fighting them every week. It is hilarious. These guys sneak into people’s houses. First of all, they seem like great guys, but they two big old country boys and they be stealing people’s cars back. It is the funniest thing in the world. They have people fighting with them all of the time. You’re just laughing the whole time. I’m telling you dude, it’s like white black entertainment television.”