After hearing countless sports figures giving pat, meaningless answers to every question they are asked, fans love people who give honest answers. Which is one big reason why Charles Barkley has remained popular as he transitioned from loudmouth player to opinionated analyst. It’s like he’s an early convert to Radical Honesty, or that it would physically pain him to reign himself in when answering any question.
But that same honesty can also make for some spectacularly uncomfortable moments, like during an interview yesterday with Howard Eskin on WIP-AM in Philadelphia (available on their Web site). During the interview, Barkley was asked his recent DUI arrest and conviction, and he responded that it was a “great thing” for him because he had learned some valuable lessons. Then the fun started:
You never think about until something bad happens. But seriously, I’m can’t sit here and lie or BS you, I’m never going to be like that. But I’ve probably been out drinking and driving 100 times a year when, you know, you just eat and you drink or whatever, and you just get behind the wheel of a car and you don’t even think about it. This was, to me, I’m glad…it was a very valuable lesson for me. Because people never even think about that..I mean, I’m just going out drinking with dinner, or just going out drinking with you and the boys, and just like, “Let me go home.” It’s like, don’t even think about it. But this gave me, like, “Man, you could kill somebody!”
I’m not going to sit here and say I haven’t driven home from a bar or a restaurant a few times in my life when it was questionable if I should have after having a few drinks, and I doubt most of you could say the same either. But a hundred times a year? That’s spending more than a quarter of your life going out getting drunk and then driving home. Back where I come from, we have a name for that: a serious drinking problem.
As THE 700 LEVEL notes, Barkley may have been trying to send along a valuable lesson about not drinking and driving to listeners, but the way he did it might not be so useful: By his own math, that’s 2,500 times he went out drinking and driving before he got caught. I’m not going to crunch the numbers here, but it doesn’t bode well for law enforcement’s abilities to catch drunk drivers.
Barkley didn’t just talk about his DUI on the show. He spent a long time reliving days at the Spectrum and gave his opinion on the arena (”blow it up“), and as SPORTS RADIO INTERVIEWS notes, he also ranted against Rush Limbaugh:
I am so close to flying wherever he is and just punching the hell out of him. He is driving me nuts! There’s a lot of idiots out there and Rush Limbaugh has a lot of influence on people.
Hey Charles - Rush never said he was a role model, right? But you have to appreciate the irony of Charles Barkley calling Rush Limbaugh a blowhard.