DANA GROSS‑RHODE: Thank you for joining us. Obviously, Mr. Barkley, thank you for joining us as well.
CHARLES BARKLEY: My pleasure. Thank you.
Q. Talk about your week. This isn't your first time at an LPGA event, but how has this week been for you and the hospitality?
CHARLES BARKLEY: Well, you know, I caddied a couple LPGA events for the girl I'm playing with today. Been very cool. The girls are always cool. Just hung out a little bit with Christina Kim. It's always fun. The girls are really cool to be around. They got great personalities. It's just fun for me. I mean, I wouldn't do it if it wasn't fun. I'm in a very unique situation. I don't do anything unless I want to do it. So it's cool for me, and this is great for Montgomery/Prattville area. I think that sometimes people in Alabama don't appreciate when you're able to get a professional event. You know, I played in the Bruno's up in Birmingham, and it's really pretty cool. I know everybody here is for Alabama and Auburn football, which are two great schools. But to get a professional sporting event is really a boost, really a boost. I really hope the people in this area get behind this thing and do it the right way.
DANA GROSS‑RHODE: Questions for Mr. Barkley.
Q. Charles, you have you haven't played for a while. Is the long layoff gonna hurt your game? (Laughter.)
CHARLES BARKLEY: Well, you know, that's a good question. I don't think it will. I don't think anything can hurt my game. You know what? I needed a break. You know, Hank is one of my great friends. When Tiger ‑‑ we got together to do the show, we were hitting a thousand golf balls a day. It was a lot of hard work and it was a lot of fun. I expected to get better and it didn't work on the like I hoped. So I just said, You know what, let me sit back and take a break. Like I say, after I left Lake Tahoe, I was really clearly disappointed and stressed out about how I played. So I said, No, I'm not gonna touch these clubs for another four or five months until I move back to Phoenix. I had my black tie dinner Friday night for my foundation, and I want to thank everybody who supported that. Isn't Maya Angelou one of the great creatures of the world? She was unbelievable, and I thank her for coming again, and all 700 people who supported it. It was just like one of the great highlights of my life. I thank everybody for that. I just happened to be in Alabama, and that's why they called me and said would I play. I said, You know what, I'm gonna be in Alabama. Anything to support Alabama is gonna be cool.
Q. You have a pretty unique swing. Can you talk to me a little bit about your swing, where that came from.
CHARLES BARKLEY: Well, you know, to be honest with you, I'm not sure how it came about. You know, I understand ‑‑ you know, it is unique. I'm clearly aware of that. I don't know how it came about or how it happened. It's been very frustrating trying to fix it. I mean, clearly you wouldn't try to do what I do, not sober. (Laughter.) But it's been very frustrating. But I keep telling people, you know, my life is pretty fabulous. People always laugh and joke, I says, You know what, if the only thing that I got going on in my life bad is I suck at golf, I got it pretty good. That's pretty much what I got. It was funny, I been doing all the interviews because basketball started yesterday, training camp. So I start work in about month. You know, I been on vacation since June. The season ended like June the 7th, 10th, somewhere in there. So I been on vacation like four months. So my life is pretty spectacular. I just got back from Australia; it was cool. It is frustrating? Of course it is. But like pretty much the only problem I got in any life is I suck at golf. I work six months of year talking about basketball, watching basketball, so it's pretty good.
Q. Coming with the basketball season, how do you feel about the referees still being locked out?
CHARLES BARKLEY: Well, we need our referees. Our referees are great, with the exception of Mike Mathis, who is an asshole. Our referees are great. I always preface that with the Mike Mathis. I don't like him at all. But we need our officials. They do a great job. We got to solve that situation.
Q. How do you see so far the season with all the expiring contracts that are coming up with the players like LeBron and Dwyane Wade? Do you see this being one of the more exciting seasons that the NBA has had in a while?
CHARLES BARKLEY: Well, I hope LeBron stays in Cleveland. I've made that very clear that I want LeBron to stay in Cleveland. I'm not really concerned about those other guys. I think it's a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity where a guy that great can play at home and just take a whole city on his back and rise up. I think that's a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity.
Q. Another player I said, Dwyane Wade...
CHARLES BARKLEY: Yeah, but he's probably gonna stay in Miami. LeBron is a unique situation. We've never had a player that big, that strong, that fast. I mean, he is a unique player. This guy, first of all, he's only 26. He's got a chance of doing stuff that's never been done before. You know, we talked about it for the last couple years. We've never had a guy that big, that strong, that fast playing in the NBA. It's a pleasure to watch him.
Q. This is kind of related to basketball, bot not really. I want to know your feelings about the whole Khloe Kardasian/Lemar Odom getting married after a month?
CHARLES BARKLEY: I'm a big anti‑trash TV person, so I hate all reality TV. I wish them the best in their marriage, but I don't ‑‑ I'm not a big trash TV person. I hate that stuff. It's like Twitter. I hate that. You know, I always joke that people who do Twitter are idiots. I never said to myself, Let me check in and see what Shaquille O'Neal is doing today. I just think that's just silly. I mean, people follow these celebrities. I'm like, Get your own life and set your own goals and ambitions. I've never said, Let me Twitter and see what this person and that person doing. You should be living your own life. Following a celebrity or somebody around like that, that's just idiotic, in my opinion.
Q. Who are your favorites so far for the NBA season to be champion?
CHARLES BARKLEY: There are five teams that can win the championship. That's one thing that stresses me about the NBA. Clearly we're in a recession. I'm concerned for the fans. But the Lakers are the team to beat, and San Antonio in the west. In the east you got Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando. Them the only teams that got a chance to win the championship, and that bothers me as a fan first and foremost. So the regular season, to me, is just gonna be can anybody make any trades and do anything to get better. But five teams with win the championship. What's interesting about those five teams, they all have question marks. Ron Artest in LA, can Tim Duncan stay healthy? Can Richard Jefferson help them. In the east, how Vince Carter is gonna fit in, and has Dwight Howard gotten better. Cleveland is can Shaq stay healthy all year? And they made a bunch of other changes, Leon Powe, guys like that. And clearly, how well Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett, can Kevin Garnett get healthy, and Rasheed Wallace is gonna fit in. So the five teams that can win it, they all got question marks.
Q. Who do you see as the favorite right now?
CHARLES BARKLEY: Well, the Lakers are the favorite.
DANA GROSS‑RHODE: We don't have much time before your Pro‑Am. Have you been out on this course and seen the course?
CHARLES BARKLEY: I have not seen the course, but all golf courses are the same. (Laughter.) They get fairways and greens. It's not the arrow, it's the engine. But, you know, they tell me it's a links‑style course, so I look forward to that.
Q. You talked about goals and aspirations. I can recall 15 years ago one of your goals was to be the governor of the state one day. Is that still an itch you want to scratch one day, or not?
CHARLES BARKLEY: Well, I think the problem with politics now is they've all sold their souls. You know, first of all, I'm an independent. There's this thing about whether you're a conservative or a liberal and you've sold your soul. They're both full it. They're not trying to help these people. You know, they're just trying to dig in. They've sold their soul to their special interest groups. I don't want to do that. I think that I've been given a gift and I'm supposed to help people. That's my gift. I'm supposed to help people. It's not the about ‑‑ you know, America divided. People talk about race in America. America is divided by economics. It's rich people screwing poor people. That's what America has become. It's like this is thing with, you know, President Obama. The conservatives sold their souls to the insurance companies and things like that, and to the pharmaceutical groups. So it's not about trying to help people, it's just about I just want my piece of the pie. That's not the way I want to live my life. You know, I do, I want to ‑‑ I just feel will so bad for poor people in this country. They're like players in the game but they have no control. I wish they were smart enough to understand that instead of watching television and listening to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs. I wish they had their own brain and realize they people just sold their soul.
Q. So 2014, do you see yourself being on our ballot?
CHARLES BARKLEY: I do not. I don't have time for games. I wanted to get in politics to do great things. In Alabama, we're No. 48. We got one of worst public schools systems in the country. We're the fattest state. We're No. 1 in diabetes, stroke, and hypertension. I was raising money this weekend for UAB Hospital because, you know, we got to get these people in better shape here. Like I say, we're No. 1 in diabetes, stroke, and hypertension. We're the fattest state. We got to address that. We got to also address the public school system. We got the lowest property taxes in the country. We either got to raise property taxes or we got to bring some form of the lottery in here. That is the only way. I mean, you can't keep sugar coating it' we've got to find a way to do that. Education is the key to being successful in life. If you're not getting quality education ‑‑ and see, what happens is rich people kids, there are good public schools. They're in rich neighborhoods, or kids go to private school. That's the balance between rich and poor.
Q. Casino gambling, of course that's an option.
CHARLES BARKLEY: Well, I'm not a big casino gambler, because if you gamble, you're going to lose. They really started screwing these people doing the slot machine things. Let me tell you something, casinos make 80% of their money from slot machines. I would prefer a lottery. But gambling, you know, they've really started screwing the people building these one‑arm bandit casinos around the country. We just did two or three in Philadelphia. Like I said, if you do your homework, casinos make 80% of their money from slot machines. If you think about that, you think about all the casinos you may have ever been in, you walk in, and there's like 100 slot machines for every gaming table for a reason. That's guaranteed income. So I'm not a big proponent of adding more casinos. I definitely think Power Ball, Mega Millions, things like that, that the money goes directly ‑‑ people have a choice if they want to play it or not, but that money goes to the public school system.
Q. Commenting on Auburn football, you were pretty critical when Coach Chizik was hired? Has your stance changed any?
CHARLES BARKLEY: Well, my stance has not changed as far as them not hiring black coaches. There are only four out of 120. They've got to address that. Hey, I'm pulling for Gene Chizik because I'm an Auburn person. I really felt bad Coach Chizik got caught in the middle ‑‑ or people thinking I did not like him. What I said, and still say today, When you put those two resumes besides each other, I thought Turner had the best resume. But I wish Coach Chizik the best, because I root for Auburn. But that still does not address why they're not hiring black coaches, and that's a problem. They're only got four out of like 125, and that's unacceptable.
Q. I guess with Artur Davis running for governor in 2010...
CHARLES BARKLEY: He's not gonna win.
Q. Do you think the state is ready for an African‑American governor?
CHARLES BARKLEY: They're not ready. We just came off the worst president in the history of civilization. Jimmy Carter is close. But we just came off the worst president in history in George Bush. President Obama is a ray of sunshine. If he did not win Alabama, Artur Davis is not going to win Alabama. That's sat to me. I talked a lot in my last book ‑‑ and actually Barack is the second chapter when he was running senate. That's how long we been friends. I talk about racism is the greatest cancer of my lifetime. I just feel sadness that it's just here. Not just here, but in the world. You can see a lot this stuff going on with President Obama right now. Everybody is going crazy talking about his spending. It's so funny, he's not spending any more money than George Bush did, and there was not this hatred and animosity toward him. And he didn't take over in the middle of a recession and with two monstrous wars going on. George Bush spent like crazy. But there is some animosity that is racially motivated toward Barack, and it's sad.