During his playing days and even now as an NBA studio analyst for TNT, Charles Barkley has never been one to shy away from the spotlight.
On Friday, when he is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, Sir Charles said he intends to step back into the shadows and deflect the rays onto those who helped him achieve this highest of honors.
“This weekend is going to be about the people who helped me get to the Hall of Fame,” Barkley said Tuesday during a news conference at US Airways Center. “I’ve had a magnificent life so it’s ain’t like I needed this so that, ‘Oh, I made it.’
“It’s been great for me pretty much the entire time. What I want to do with this Hall of Fame thing is thank the people who helped me get to the Hall of Fame.”
Putting others first is a common theme in Barkley’s life these days. The former Suns great has taken the energy he used on the court while earning the nickname the “Round Mound of Rebound” and focused it on giving back to the community in an effort to improve the lives of others. As an example, over the past year Barkley has bought $1 million worth of houses for those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
“That was a really big deal for me because I can’t believe in the United States I can see people on television for two or three days begging for food and water,” he said. “That shouldn’t happen here. We’re the best country in the world.”
And Barkley intends to do more. While he has talked off and on over the past several years about running for governor of Alabama, Barkley said Tuesday he is “very serious” about being on the ballot in 2014.
“You have to live there seven years, so I’m looking for a house there as we speak,” said Barkley, who still resides in the Valley.
Barkley said he isn’t going to affiliate himself with any political party for the time being.
“I’m an independent,” he said. “I think Republicans are full of it and Democrats are a little less full of it.”
But no matter what ticket he runs on, “I want to speak for people who can’t speak for themselves. America discriminates against poor people. America is divided by economics. If you’re born poor white, black or Hispanic you’re going to be in a bad neighborhood. You’re going to go to a bad school. That’s not right. . . .
“Just living in this world you see the discrepancy between the rich and the poor. It’s not getting closer. It’s just getting wider every year. It’s very frustrating for me as a person who started there (poor). I said to myself, ‘Man, if I couldn’t have played basketball that would have been me.’ You just can’t sit back and let that happen. I’m going to keep doing that, speaking out. . . .
“I think I’ve been really blessed in my life. If I was just to be rich and famous and have a big house and a big car and live happily every after, I think I’d let the big fella down who gave me the gift to get to the Hall of Fame. I truly believe that.”