Friday, May 11, 2007

Sir Charles

I've been a fan of Charles Barkley ever since he actually made Auburn's basketball team fun to watch back in the early '80s. Even as a nine-year-old I could appreciate the sheer athleticism of somebody so fat -- at one in his college basketball career was weighing 300 lbs, all carried in a 6'4 frame. He, of course, went on to become one of the greatest NBA players of all time. And, in all likelihood, one of the most entertaining.

Fortunately, Barkley has not become an embarassing shell of his entertaining self like Michael Jordan. TNT was very wise to pony up the big bucks to land him on their Inside the NBA studio show, and it is consistently one of the most fun things to watch on tv. I suspect that even non-basketball fans might enjoy it, if only because it's so rare to see people on a live set actually seem to enjoy one another's company and have a good time talking.

For those who do not know him very well, Barkley is the consummate court jester. He is, though, also pretty insightful, as this interview proves. Much of it can be ignored, but he does hit on something in crystal-clear, "blue-collar" language what I think is the fundamental truth about the world today (not just America):

So is that what interests you primarily--economic issues?

America is divided by economics strictly. You know, people always talk about race, and we have racial problems in this country. Of course we do. But the real issue is the rich against the poor. We've got to get poor white people and poor black people and Mexicans [sic] to realize they are all in the same boat. If you in one of those three groups and you are poor, you are going to be in a bad neighborhood, you are going to go to a bad school, and you are going to have strikes against you. You can't commit crimes in good neighborhoods. They will get your ass. Their kids go to private school, or they go to school in a good economic area. But the poor people, they are all in the same boat but they divide you based on race or stuff like that. A lot of these politicians say things like "We've got to stop all these illegal immigrants." I am like, "That is so easy to stop." They are not working for other immigrants.

Has your perspective on these issues changed in the last few years?

Yes, when I realized that rich people will always be rich and the poor people are like crabs in a barrel. They are going to fight with each other, but they are really in the same boat. They want you to argue about gay marriage. They want you to argue about the war in Iraq.

Well said.