Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 at 1:16 pm  |  12 responses

March Madness to Turner Sports

CBS Sports, Turner Sports partnership brings NBA analysts to NCAA Tourney coverage.

Charles Barkley held court at a table with several reporters for 30 minutes, and almost none of the conversation pertained to the basketball court. When asked what he would discuss in the New York Studio with Johnson, Gumbel, Anthony and Smith, Barkley noted he would reflect primarily on the lack of education many college basketball players receive.

Barkley sought a green light from Turner to discuss what he feels is the mistreatment of college players—by agents, by the AAU, by the NBA and by TV networks.

“We have an obligation to graduate these players,” Barkley said. “We can’t just keep making money on these players and not graduating them.”

He expressed his admiration and love for Turner Sports, and all the opportunities it’s afforded him, but he was explicit in his motivations compared to his employer’s intentions. “My bosses are here to make money,” Barkley said. “I can’t just be in it for the money. That’s not cool.”

The basketball part of the analysis will take care of itself, according to Barkley. He didn’t provide a game plan for how he will balance the basketball analysis with his opinions on how colleges can ensure their basketball players graduate. Instead, Barkley said he’ll speak up early and often; he claimed he wouldn’t have accepted his part on Turner’s NCAA Tournament coverage otherwise. (In typical fashion, he made a point later in the other direction by saying he told Turner he would serve whatever role he could to help their tournament coverage.)

To be clear, Barkley’s main points were that college players need to graduate, and that there isn’t enough being done on their behalf to ensure that happens. College players leave school early for the NBA—often ignoring much of their academic responsibilities—and he said the NBA isn’t better for it.

“I hate that one-and-done shit,” Barkley said. “These kids ain’t ready for the NBA. The player’s union gets mad when I say it, but I don’t care. They don’t ever look at the big picture. We all making a lot of money, but we’ve done a disservice to these kids.”

Barkley turned down the suggestion that players should be paid by schools. He’d rather see a player get paid from his agent.

“I’m very adamant that I think players should be able to borrow money from agents. The tricky thing about paying players is who do you pay? Do you pay the football team? Do you pay the basketball team? Do you not pay the woman’s basketball team, the woman’s lacrosse team? I understand that’s a tricky slope for players. I’m not sure there’s a way to do that. But I don’t see any competitive advantage from borrowing money from agents, to keep a kid in school longer.”

The quotes might have been new, but Barkley’s stance is one which he’s repeated for years. The amateur basketball system in the United States is unfit to set up its players for future success. This will be a point made again and again by Barkley during NCAA Tournament coverage.

For your reading pleasure, here is a cornucopia of quotes from Barkley, with explanations for the context in which the statements were made:

On whether he’ll criticize college players on-air: “They’re kids, they’re not making $10 million per year. I’m not going to criticize college players like I [do] NBA players. That’s not fair.”

On why he won’t stick to just basketball analysis in his studio role for the NCAA Tournament: “I’m not coming here to pump up anybody. I’m on the NBA’s ass, too. They need to keep these kids in college longer. I want two years [before they can enter the NBA].”

On one reporter’s suggestion that players should take responsibility for graduating (Barkley later acknowledged that point was “well-taken”): “You got to make sure those kids go to school. You can’t be giving them those basket-weaving degrees. You know, these colleges have an obligation to make sure they’re going toward graduation. You can’t just put them in classes to keep them eligible.”

On why he thinks college players have been used by others: “The problem is we’re all pigs. College is just trying theirs, the NBA just trying to get theirs. Agents just trying to get theirs. That’s what I mean by they’re all pigs. Everybody is concerned about their thing.”

On whether college head coaches should help ensure players to graduate: “The coach’s job is to win games. Some of these coaches have great graduation rates. I’m not gonna sit here and berate coaches about not graduating players. Listen, there are a couple coaches I know who had great graduation rates who are looking for jobs. The system is what it is. They gotta win. They got families, too. But these guys who we are working with now — I don’t think I’m asking too much to graduate these players.”

On the understandable double standard of his alma mater, Auburn, going through rumored violations with Cam Newton: “I went to a bunch of Auburn games and I saw 20,000, 30,000 Cam Newton jerseys. And y’all are bitching because he supposedly [gives quotation marks] got $200,000. And as I’ve said to y’all, if he got $200,000, he was grossly underpaid.”

On his confusion about Kyrie Irving being a highly-projected draft pick (Barkley had been discussing how few impact players there had been in recent NBA drafts): “They got the kid at Duke going second or third. He played eight freaking games. How the hell can you tell me this guy’s one of the five best college players.”

On the AAU (a reporter had asked if Barkley agreed with the sentiment that amateur players partake in so many games through AAU ball that they care less about winning): “Don’t get me started on that AAU shit. That’s a travesty. They’re playing too much basketball. That stuff is so corrupt. I just hate that.”

On college basketball analysis for the NCAA Tournament (Barkley pointed out that if a Martian had watched the recent Cavaliers-Lakers game, then the Martian would think the Cavs were the best team in the NBA, solidifying his thought that judging a team off of one game doesn’t work): “I’m not gonna watch 100 college basketball teams play. That’s bullshit. I’ll probably watch 30, 40 teams play. The rest, I’ll have to get my college coach friends and other college analysts [to offer their insight]. Look, you watch them play one time, you don’t know them.”

On Turner Sports: “Turner’s been great to me. I love my job and the people I work with and work for. I said I would do whatever you want me to do.”

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  • http://nobulljive.com/ Enigmatic

    I think the NBA should do away with the minimum age of 19 and one year removed from HS rule.
    But then the NCAA should institute a rule that says basketball players have to stick around for at least three years.
    That way, ideally, you’ve got the best of the best, the kids who realistically aren’t going to do anything with their lives but play basketball and have no interest in academics, they can go on to the NBA.
    In recent years players like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and OJ Mayo were good enough to go straight to the pros.
    Then if a kid goes to college, they have to stick around and you’ve got no more one-and-dones.
    Of course, there’d still be the problem of high school kids thinking they’re good enough to go pro when they’re not, like in the ’05 draft where a bunch of them probably should’ve just gone to college.
    There’s no easy solution.

  • http://www.newyorkshockexchange.com ShockExchange

    There are still some AAU teams who take an “old school approach” and do an excellent job of developing kids. You can see at Shock Exchange Comes to Harlem, April 22-23 at Columbia University. Chuck, “We must be the change we would like to see” – Ghandi. Here is a re-cap from last year’s event. http://clicky.me/ShockExchangeComestoHarlem2010

  • http://bashmo_4@hotmail.com bashmo

    This is pretty cool, but it also means less games being called by Gus Johnson. DAMNIT, GJ is the man, his emotion on the commentating side of things is unrivaled by even Kevin Harlan. Man can get incredibly into the game. Tournament will be BEAST

  • spit hot fiyah

    co sign bashmo, RISE AND FIRE!!!!!!
    bill raftery is gangsta as well, man2man

  • spit hot fiyah
  • Riggs

    when Gus Johnson said Pause to spike lee, he became one of my favorite commentators.

  • http://slamonline.com Yknot

    Barkley talks alot about the disadvantages of the current college atmosphere, however his opinions might have more credence if he himself were a graduate of Auburn and not just a former ball player there. How is he that much different than the 1 and done guys he’s talking about?

  • http://slamonline.com Kyle Stack

    @Yknot: Barkley’s point about one-and-done players was that they’re not ready to play in the NBA. Barkley stayed at Auburn for three years, averaged 14 and 8.5 his rookie year, then averaged a double-double the rest of his career. So, he was ready to play in the NBA — physically and mentally — which sets him apart from the Derrick Cousins’ of today.

  • http://slamonline.com Yknot

    @Stack DHoward 12 and 10 rookie year, DRose 16.8 6.3 assists, Melo 12,7,and 3 all comparable numbers and none of them have thrown patrons through bar windows in brawls. So a high schooler and two one and dones are more mature than a three year man from Auburn?

  • http://www.kylestack.com Kyle Stack

    Well, to be clear, he never made a comparison of today’s players to himself. That’s just a conclusion that readers might draw. Sure, there are guys who’ve been successful. You can make the argument that high schoolers should enter based on what KG, Kobe and Bron have done. But the truth is guys like that are exceptions to the rule. Barkley’s point was that most players, especially college freshmen, aren’t ready. And his point about one-and-done was also that the freshmen who know they’ll go pro after the frosh year don’t bother to attend class, especially in the second semester.

  • Harlem_World

    That Gus Johnson page is reedunkulous. Love it. 15 minutes I won’t get back, but enjoyed the trade off.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    Off topic, I have yet to buy the top 500 mag, but I did skim through it at the store, now Im not going to upset everybody by saying that John Stockton is “the best” point guard of all time, but #22?? No, he does not have a championship ring, but he IS the all time leader in assists, and steals.. I think I would have placed him top 15, at least..