Q+A: Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley
Miller and Barkley discuss their roles as NCAA Tournament analysts and drop NBA knowledge.
SLAM: You don’t think that their defensive post presence makes up for their lack of interior scoring?
RM: Not really. I do love Ibaka and Perkins and how they fill the lane, at the end of the game, you have to score the basketball to win. That is it. You gotta score more points than the opponent.
SLAM: Doesn’t Harden seem like he could be their best post presence on offense?
RM: Not really. I think Durant would be because of his size. You don’t have to put him on the block. Put him in the mid-post 15 feet away. At 6’10, one dribble and he’s in the paint.
SLAM: How overrated, underrated or properly rated is this argument about whether LeBron James should take the final shot at the end of a game?
RM: Overrated. On that particular team, I’ve always felt – Charles [Barkley] would disagree with me because he says it’s LeBron’s team. I say for 45, 46 minutes it’s LeBron’s team. For two minutes, it’s gotta be Dwyane Wade’s team. You got to know what guys are capable of.
To me, Dwyane is an assassin whereas LeBron is a setup man. I believe he can dominate for 45, 46 minutes but when the game is on the line, I want the ball in Dwyane Wade’s hands.
SLAM: I would think the closest you came to that in your career is when you were with Chuck Person in the early ’90s. Did you feel like that was his team or your team?
RM: Well, when I came there he had just won Rookie of the Year. So, it wasn’t like he had been there five or six years and then I came there. He was only a year ahead of me. I deferred to him quite a bit because it was some of his team along with Herb Williams and Waymon Tisdale.
SLAM: But did you feel the responsibility to take the shot with the game on the line earlier in your career? I’m sure you felt that way by the mid-’90s.
RM: I didn’t feel that way until Chuck got traded, which was in ’92 or ’93. [Editor: Person was traded with Michael Williams from the Pacers to the Timberwolves for Sam Mitchell and Pooh Richardson on September 8, 1992.] Then I felt that responsibility that I had to do that. When he was there, it was almost like a dual responsibility. Maybe that’s what they feel like in Miami, that they both can do it. But obviously LeBron hasn’t shown that he can do it.
SLAM: It’s great that you joined Weight Watchers.
Charles Barkley: Well, you know, I had chances to join other weight loss products. I really liked the program and I’m very happy with it. I’ve lost, like 40 pounds, about 55 total. I’ve lost 40 on Weight Watchers.
The good thing about it is to lose weight and not have to change your eating habits. That’s the best thing about Weight Watchers for me.
SLAM: Let’s talk about the NCAA Tournament. What did you learn from last year that you’ve been able to incorporate this year in how you study teams?
CB: Nothing different. I didn’t realize how hard the first two days were going to be. Now we know what to expect. The scouting is the same. You know, we probably watched the top 30 or 40 teams. Then your contacts come into play. Other coaches, some announcers, that’s how you do it.
SLAM: You were criticized a bit last year for saying that, but I think there’s some truth to it.
CB: Listen, let me tell you something. Anybody who tells you they watch every team play is full of shit. You know the thing that’s funny about that? The selection committee is made up of athletic directors. I promise you there’s not one athletic director in the country who’s watched more college basketball than me. And they have not watched all 68 teams, so give me a break.
SLAM: What two or three teams do you like right now?
CB: Well, Kentucky and North Carolina are my two picks to get to the Finals. Syracuse is very good. The guy at Kansas, Bill Self, has a terrific point guard and a terrific big man. That’s the guy’s combination. Kansas would be my sleeper to get to the Final Four. Kentucky and North Carolina are the two favorites.
SLAM: What do you like about Kentucky that some other people don’t like?
CB: They think they’re too young. I think that guy, John Calipari, is the best coach in the country. He doesn’t get enough credit for getting guys who are freshmen to play defense. That’s incredible. You know, freshmen never want to play defense.
SLAM: I wanted to talk NBA, too. You said earlier in the season you were displeased with the quality of play, overall.
SLAM: How do you feel right now?
CB: I’m still displeased. We have a bunch of bad teams in the NBA. I feel bad for the fans.
SLAM: I wondered if you would have any sympathy for this situation since you played during the ’99 lockout season.
CB: [Smiles] Let me ask you a question. These teams that suck. You think if they got some rest days that they would still suck?
SLAM: Yeah, they still would.
CB: That’s my point. You can use the lockout as an excuse, but I’m talking about some of these teams, like Toronto.
SLAM: What’s the solution? Is it players starting the season in better shape?
CB: I don’t think it has anything to do with players in better shape. Organizations haven’t done a good job. Listen, I’m a fan. I think it’s unfair, as a fan, for me to pay a lot of money for a team that has no chance of winning. The thing that bothers me the most is they have no chance of winning soon. Like, New Orleans is not gonna be any good for the next five years, probably. You can talk about Toronto. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Same with the Bobcats. That’s not cool.