2011-12 NBA Broadcasting Guide (cont.)
FIVE MINUTES ... with Charles Barkley:
SI.com: What does Shaq have to do to be an effective broadcaster and to fit in effectively with you guys?
Barkley: If you watch our show, our No. 1 priority is to make sure the fan has fun. All Shaq has to do is come on and have fun with us. He's a great person and a funny guy. He doesn't have to try to be funny. Our show wasn't broken. Most times, when people come in, the show is broken. If he comes in and is himself, he'll be fabulous.
SI.com: Is there a player or team that you are most curious about?
Barkley: I find the Lamar Odom thing fascinating, with the Lakers trading him to a rival. The Lakers, to me, have to have something going on because that trade to Dallas did not make sense to me. I'm not even sure they are the best team in L.A. now. I think the Knicks will be interesting to watch. I want to see how the Celtics hold up. They are an old team. The Miami Heat are in awkward situation because it's championship or bust. There are very few teams in sports where they have to win the championship or it's a bad season. They are in that situation now.
SI.com: How do you expect viewers to react to LeBron this year?
Barkley: I think LeBron did some things recently that he should have done a year ago. I saw the ESPN interview where he said he wished he did things differently. I think if he would have done that a year ago, the vitriol would not have been nearly as bad last year. If you look at the whole LeBron thing, I don't think people were mad that he left Cleveland. They got mad at the way he left Cleveland, and then when [the Heat] went on and danced around on stage.
SI.com: How will the quality of play be this year with an abridged schedule?
Barkley: I think you have to worry more about injuries than the basketball itself. If you look at the NFL this year, there is no question that there have been more injuries to players because of the lack of training camp and things like that. My biggest concern with the NBA is not the level of play. First of all, these guys have all been playing basketball for a long time. So I think that's bogus. I think you really have to worry about injuries. Playing three games in three days or five games in six days will be hard on these guys' bodies.
SI.com: Is David Stern a bully?
Barkley: He's not a bully. The commissioner works for the owners. When you are negotiating with the rank-and-file, they might think you are a bully but that's just business. I don't look at him as a bully but I will say this: I think the New Orleans trade thing [Stern and the NBA, which owns the Hornets, vetoed a deal to send Chris Paul to the Lakers] was the first time I have ever seen the commissioner make a mistake. I like him a lot. I think he has been the best commissioner in sports in the last 25 years. Everything he has done, he has done in the best interest of the league. But from a PR standpoint, I really think this was the first time he did not do something right. I didn't see anybody say anything positive during that, and to be honest with you, there is no way they can explain that situation.
SI.com: Is there a player who could walk into the booth and be great?
Barkley: I think Grant Hill would be a very good commentator. He's a very smart guy. He knows basketball. Grant would be terrific.
SI.com: You are now a spokesperson for Weight Watchers. Has the diet started and are you down in weight right now?
Barkley: I have lost about 35 pounds.
SI.com: Is there a long-term weight goal?
Barkley: I am still trying to figure that out. I have gained 100 pounds since I retired. I don't know if I can get back to my playing weight. I have not come to a conclusion how low I can go, but I want to get to a certain neighborhood and stay there. I have to get to a place where I am happy and healthy and feel like I can maintain that weight.
SI.com: How often do you weigh yourself?
Barkley: They weigh me every two weeks. The toughest thing for me is I did not eat vegetables. I only ate rice, corn and potatoes. Now I eat cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and things like that. Adjusting to the vegetables, as silly as it sounds, that has been the toughest thing for me. I have eaten more vegetables in the last three months than I have in the last 40 years of my life.
SI.com: Given the media attention to Kim Kardashian, I'd expect Kris Humphries to take a lot of gruff at NBA arenas. Agree or Disagree?
Barkley: Most people don't understand what fame is until you are in it. It's a lot more that goes into it. I think he got overwhelmed. I tell people I never discuss fame with someone who is not famous because you have no idea all the crap that goes with it. I think he is a great kid and a very good player, but fans are going to be brutal to him. It's unfortunate because he's a good kid, but it's going to be a long year.