Sounds Like Charles Barkley Likes Chicago’s Chances: “They’re the best defensive team I think I’ve ever seen in the history of the NBA.”

May 17, 2011 – 11:15 am by Michael Bean

It’s NBA Playoffs time, so there’s no such thing as too much Charles Barkley regardless of the medium. Be it on television or the radio, internet Barkley’s analysis and humor are both outstanding. So with the Eastern Conference Finals already underway and the Western Conference Finals set to begin Tuesday evening, let’s check in with Chuck to see what he’s got to say about both series, as well as the conversation going on about Phoenix Suns CEO Rick Welts declaring that he was gay.

Barkley joined WJOX in Birmingham to talk about how he thought the Grizzlies would beat the Thunder, why the triple overtime loss really hurt Memphis’ chances, whether he thinks Dirk Nowitzki or Kevin Durant will have the better series, what Oklahoma City can try to do to slow down Dirk, why he thinks people are crazy if they aren’t appreciating this year’s playoffs as one of the more interesting and exciting postseasons in some time, Chicago’s impressive game one thumping of Miami, why he thinks the Bulls are one of the best defensive teams he’s ever seen play, his reaction to Suns CEO Rick Welts coming out, how he hopes it opens the door for more people in sports to do the same particularly players, how he is confident that he played with several gay teammates, and why the issue doesn’t bother him one bit.

After being introduced as the second greatest Auburn Tigers athlete ever, Charles gets a quick word in to begin:

“First of all, there’s no debate. There’s only a debate between me and Bo Jackson. I think he’s No. 2, he thinks I’m No. 2. But I hate to break it to him, he is No. 2.”

On who he thought would win the Thunder-Grizzlies series:

“Well I picked Memphis to win that series, but if you go back a week and a half ago, when they  lost that triple overtime game, that flipped the series. But I thought Memphis was going to win that series. But once they lost that triple overtime game — you’re only going to win one game on the road realistically playing a good team, you’re not going to beat a good team on the road twice. But when they  lost that fourth game I said, ‘uh oh, that flipped the whole series’ But going forward, I think Dallas is going to beat Oklahoma City. Dallas has played fantastic. I think Dirk is just…Dirk is just Dirk. Dirk has been great for a long time. I think the addition of Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood makes them a much bigger team. They lost because they were just too small the last couple years. But they’ve solved that problem with Haywood, and they’ve solved that problem with Tyson Chandler. So Dallas is the team to beat in the West, and I think they will win the West.”

On who he thinks will have the better series based on matchups — Dirk Nowitzki or Kevin Durant:

“Well Dirk is going to have the better series because Dirk is going to have better matchups. Durant is a great player but one of his weaknesses in his game is he’s a jump shooter, so little guys can have success. So he played great yesterday — he had 39 — but he had 11 the game before. When he adds a post-up to his game, little guys won’t be able to guard him. And Dirk, that’s the difference. Dirk can post anyone up. You just get easier shots when you post up.”

On what the Thunder can do to stop Nowitzki, who seemingly can get good looks off from anywhere on the floor regardless of who’s guarding him:

“Well I was joking around, as a coach — I’ve never been a coach — but a coach always say, ‘let’s make him do that’. Well as a coach you would say, ‘yeah, let me make this 7′ guy make one-legged fall-aways.’ You know, you can say the same about Hakeem Olajuwon…’yeah, make this guy make a 360 fade-away jump shot behind the backboard.’ That’s a coach’s dream — that’s a shot you want guys to take.  But with Dirk, a coach will say ‘yeah, let’s make this guy take one-legged fall-away jumpers’, but he is so great he makes those shots. I mean, the guy is unguaradable.”

On this year’s playoffs being as exciting as ever even if the star power has been diminished a bit with the Lakers and Celtics losing:

“I hate when people say that. Those people are idiots. It’s funny, like the major, major markets…the media, the people, they want to see the same teams all the time. That’s one thing that’s the beauty of sports — you play and you see who wins. I hate when I hear we want this market, we want that market. We as players don’t care about what market you in, we want to just go out there and play and see who wins. But it’s just so stupid when you hear that. I mean, the Lakers got swept by the Mavs. Now, if somebody wants to go see the Lakers play, go down and see the play at LA Fitness or something. I mean, that’s what makes sports great — your team has a chance to win; that’s the beauty of it.”

On Chicago’s impressive Game 1 thumping of the Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals:

“Well Chicago’s going to win the series. They’re too good for the Heat. They’re too big, they’re too deep, and Derrick Rose is just a phenomenal player. I picked the Bulls to win. You know, me and Kenny, we were joking last night — somebody sent him an email from the start of the season because you make predictions — and we both had the Bulls in the Heat in the Conference Finals, and I had the Bulls going to the Finals and he’s got the Heat. And Kenny flip-flopped, he said ‘I’ve got to give you credit, you picked the Bulls all along.’ But listen, they’re just too big and they’re bench is too good. LeBron’s a great player, Wade’s a great player, but roles can offset one of those guys. I give Noah and Boozer a big advantage inside, but the difference in the series as you saw last night is going to be the bench. Their bench is so much better than the Heat bench. So that’s going to be the difference in the series.”

On Chicago’s incredible tough and sound team defense:

“Well I said on the show last night, they’re the best defensive team I think I’ve ever seen in the history of the NBA. We showed about five or six plays last night — the Heat got that bad offense where they give it to LeBron or they give it to Wade and let them go one-on-one — so we showed about five of six of those plays last night, and normally on bad defensive teams, if you make one move, you get a layup or a dunk. Every single play that we showed, LeBron or Wade had to go through two or three defensive guys every time. But taking it back real quick to your man Derrick Rose — you know, we were staying at the hotel last week when they came and played the Atlanta Hawks. And he’s a very nice kid. But every time I see him I’m like ‘the dude’s only 6’2 1/2.’ But he’s got a great body, it’s a very strong body, and he is so explosive. We were trying to figure out…It was like, there is nobody that has been that explosive at the point guard spot in the NBA because he’s finishing around the basket. I mean., he’s really developed his jump shot. He’s made more jump shots than he made his first couple of years in the NBA. And he’s shooting a great percentage. And he wants to be a great player which is great for the NBA because he’s a great kid.”

On the Suns president Rick Welts coming out to say he’s gay:

“Well No. 1 I’m happy for Rick. I’ve been a big proponent of gay marriage for a long time. I mean, as a black person I can’t be discriminatory against anybody. So God bless him. You know, I did a thing last week…it really annoys the hell out of me when ESPN — they did it last week, they do it every couple of months  — where they act like all jocks are going to hate a gay teammate. First of all, that’s 100 percent incorrect. They make it sound like we’re animals, and if somebody came out as a gay player, then we would shun him or whatever. First of all, we only hate guys that can’t play. Let’s get that straight. Listen dude, I hate when people try to tell me what I’m thinking. I will tell you what I’m thinking if you ask me. If a guy’s gay, he’s gay, that doesn’t bother me at all. I’m happy for Rick. I know Rick obviously from working with the Suns and living in Phoenix, but that doesn’t bother me man. I don’t stick my nose in other people’s sexuality — that’s their own business. And like I said, we all know it, we’ve all played with gay guys. Anybody who doesn’t think they’ve played with a gay guy is an idiot.”

If there were any guys he played with that he believes were gay but too reluctant to share publicly:

“Oh yeah, probably three or four guys that we all knew was gay. But there’s this taboo — and the thing that makes me laugh is society is more BS on homosexuality than players are. Like I say, there’s guys I played with that I knew were gay and it didn’t bother me at all. But society wants to act like they’re all forgiving and everything, there’s a lot more people — especially a lot of these religious nut jobs — who hate gay guys a lot more than players do.”

On what he has to say about those that don’t ‘hate’ gays but can’t accept their choices for religious reasons:

“Yeah and I understand that to a certain to degree, but the one thing about these Bible thumpers that annoys me is they’re supposed to be non-judgmental. They’re always –now not all of them, I shouldn’t say that — but a lot of them love to cast the first stone, but I’ve always been taught that you should always be non-judgmental. Whether you like it or not, you’re supposed to take the high road and say ‘you know what, I’m supposed to be non-judgmental, and first of all, it’s none of my business, it’s none of my business.’ And that’s the only part of the religion aspect that annoys me. Because they’re supposed to be non-judgmental. And that’s the way I look at it.”

Listen here to Barkley with The Opening Drive on WJOX in Birmingham

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