PLAYBOY: On TNT's Inside the NBA. you frequently spar with co-hosts Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith. If your boat were sinking and you could save only one of them, whom would you choose? BARKLEY: That's the stupidest question I've ever been asked. Kenny's obviously got no chance. Not only that, we'd probably take some of his body parts in case we couldn't get food-we could eat him a couple of days later. Wait, it depends on the destination. If the boat is going to Miami to hang out, I might take Kenny Ernie just wants to go to Dairy Queen all the damn time
PLAYBOY: Your contract with TNT ends after this season. What will you do? BARKLEY: I work one day a week. If I turn this job down I'm a damn fool. We work every Thursday. The other six days I'm free. Why would I turn this job down? Unless I could come back and play.
PLAYBOY: This season has been full of drama. Stephon Marbury walked out on the Knicks. Kobe Bryant battled with the Lakers. What is going on in the NBA? BARKLEY: I think the main thing is that guys
are making so much money you can't control them anymore That's unfortunate. You've got guys who are always hawking to be traded, guys who say they're going to do things their way no matter what. It's unfortunate because it hurts the game. They've got what we call fuck-you money. Stephon Marbury makes $20 million a year. There's nothing they can do to him. so hell always do things his way.
PLAYBOY: Kobe Bryant allegedly text messaged you several times in response to negative comments you made about him. Do players regularly confront you about things you've said? BARKLEY: Yeah, but my job is for the fans. Kobe doesn't ever call me or text me when I say he's the best player in the NBA. He doesn't call and thank me. That's one thing that's very interesting in my life right now. When I played. I thought the players were always right. You live in your own environment. One thing being on television has done is that I have to sit back and be fair. I've realized some players are fucking idiots.
PLAYBOY: But are they worth putting up with for their talent?
BARKLEY: Kobe is Stephon Marbury is not. I always tell people you can be a pain in the ass if you're a great player. If you're not a good player, you cant be a pain in the ass. You have to earn it.
PLAYBOY: Do you think the NBA should force players to stay in college longer? Do you think that would help? BARKLEY: I do. I wish they would expand the rules so kids had to stay in college for two years. First of all. we're the only sport that doesn't force that. In football you have to be out of high school for three years. In other sports you have to go to the minor leagues. We're the only sport where players can go from one year of college to the NBA Its really hurt the game. They're not ready. They can't handle that. Look at the great players who came in that way. Kobe Bryant is a great player. Kevin Garnett is a great player, but they struggled. I can't imagine guys being better than they are.
PLAYBOY: With betting, steroid investigations and dogfighting, it seems every pro sport is facing some type of scandal.
What's wrong with the business today? barki.eV: There is nothing wrong with pro sports. We live in a 24-hour news cycle. Most of my guys are great people, but when something bad happens the news makes it sound like the end of the world. That's just how it is. We've got more than 400 guys in the NBA. If 10 of them act a fool, the media act like they're all bad.
playboy: Should your friend Barry Bonds be allowed in the Baseball Hall of Fame?
barkley: Of course he should. That's a no-brainer. And if the Baseball Hall of Fame accepts that baseball with an asterisk drawn on it, all the players should boycott the Hall of Fame.
playboy Do you have any plans to run for governor of Alabama? barkley: I'm going to be the governor in 2014. I just bought a house there. I can do some great things. America is divided between rich and poor, and the poor people don't stand a chance in this country. Poor people are born in bad neighborhoods and are going to go to bad schools. That's not right. You shouldn't have to be rich and famous to be successful.
playboy: You've said you'll run as a Democrat. Didn't you used to be a Republican?
barkley: No. I didn't used to be a Republican. I said I was rich like a Republican, and I'm still rich like a Republican. There's no way in good conscience you can be a Republican right now. After what Bush and his cronies have done to America, there's no way you can honestly feel good about being a Republican. I mean that sincerely. Let's get something straight: The Democrats aren't much better. But I don't know how you can honestly say in good conscience that you are a Republican today in this country and not cringe.
playboy: Would you consider bringing in Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson to help with your campaign? barkley: No. I don't believe in them. They always play the race card, and you can't always play the race card. Sometimes the race card is needed but not in every situation. We have to hold blacks more accountable for their actions.
playboy: Whom are you voting for in the presidential election?
barklev: I'm voting for Barack Obama. The reason I'm voting for him is he's a friend of mine. But I have to look at the big picture. We are so lost and confused in the black community right now. All our kids want to be rappers or entertainers. We need to let them know they can be intelligent and articulate. It's a bigger picture than him running for president, to be honest with you.
playboy: Do you watch shows like The O'Reilly Factor?
barki.ey: No, because Bill O'Reilly is an asshole. And Lou Dobbs is an asshole. He's always hating on illegal immigrants. First of all, illegal immi-
grants do the work blacks and whites don't want to do. O'Reilly and Dobbs incite fear. On CNN, Dobbs is going in that direction because CNN is getting its butt kicked by Fox. He does a show every single night on illegal immigration. Seriously, if they want to stop illegal immigration it's very simple: All they have to do is penalize the rich people who hire illegal immigrants. They're not working for other poor people; they're working for rich people.
plavbov: How do you feel about the war in Iraq?
barklev: We have to bring those kids home. They should not be overseas. That's a no-win situation. We should not have gone there in the beginning, and now that it's a cluster fuck we should bring them home as soon as possible. It's never going to be safe there. Here's my analogy: If I come into your house and kick your ass and then stay, it's never going to be good. We're not going to get along. It's never going to
happen. It will never be safe in Iraq. It's just stupid for us to be there.
playboy: Why don't other athletes talk about these issues?
barkley: They're afraid. They don't want to be criticized. I understand 1 can't make everybody happy. It's just my opinions. These guys don't even want to worry about it. They'd rather sell products. I'm not trying to sell products. I think it's important to give my point of view on serious issues. These guys are more businessmen than in my day. They make so much money right now, they don't give a shit. It doesn't matter. They make so much money, it's of! the charts. I'm not hating on them. It's just a fact.
playboy: How's your golf game right
barkley: I'm retired, man. I had to quit.
It wasn't pretty.
playboy: To what lengths would you go to improve your golf game? barkley: I got myself hypnotized. All I got was a good nap, and I woke up really refreshed. That was it. My game did not improve at all, but I was relaxed and refreshed when I woke up.
playboy: With golf gone, you're now reduced to your other hobby, gambling. What's the worst night of gambling you've ever had? barkley: Super Bowl weekend a couple of years ago. I was in Vegas. It was tough for me, man, playing blackjack. I have to slow down on my gambling. It's not going well. It's just stupid.
PLAYBOY: What's the most you've ever lost in a single night of gambling? barkley: A couple of million dollars.
playboy: Portland Trail Blazer Greg Oden named his new dog Charles Barkley McLovin. Is that a compliment or an insult?
barkley: I think that was cool. I've had that happen a lot in my life, but that was pretty cool. I've had a lot of dogs named after me, believe it or not. I take it as a great compliment. Seriously, I've had probably 25 people in my life tell me they named their pets after me.
Read the 21st question at playboy.com/2Iq.
LISTEN UP, KOBE BYRANT, STEPHON MARBURY, LOU DOBBS, AL SHARPTON,
BILL O'REILLY, JESSE JACKSON, BARRY BONDS, BARACK OBAMA AND GEORGE
BUSH-TNT'S BIGGEST MOUTH HAS SOMETHING TO SAY TO YOU
' PRO SPORTS. WHEN SOMETHING BAD HAP-■NS THE NEWS MAKES IT 1OUND LIKE THE END OF P WORLD. WE'VE GOT RE THAN 400 GUYS IN E NBA. IF 10 OF THEM fA FOOL, THE MEDIA ACT LIKE HEY'RE ALL BAD.