Retired NBA star Charles Barkley always speaks his mind. Now he's weighing in on the selection of a new football coach at his old school, Auburn University, saying race was a factor. Click through to see more "Sir Charles" moments.
Barkley said that NBA Superstar LeBron James(left) should just "shut the hell up" about possible free agency options in 2010. James responded, "He's stupid. That's all I've got to say about that."
To one lucky student, "Sir Charles" was more like "Saint Charles." During a visit to an Italian restaurant last summer, Barkley struck up a friendship with a 28-year-old busboy named Christian Abate and offered to pay his tuition so he could finish college. "He's a nice kid," Barkley said. "He was working with kids, I loved that he wanted to be a teacher, and I wanted to help him."
Ethan Miller, Getty Images
Politics? Why not? Barkley told CNN in October he plans to run for Governor of Alabama in 2014. Asked if he was serious, Barkley responded, "I am, I can't screw up Alabama."
Nathaniel S. Butler, NBAE via Getty Images
On the court, Barkley was frequently fined for fights with other players. In 1990, Barkley and Bill Laimbeer were each fined $20,000 (a record amount for the NBA at the time) for a fracas during a playoff game.
Nathaniel S. Butler, NBAE via Getty Images
While Barkley was beloved by fans, he gained fame for his anti-role model stance. "A million guys can dunk a basketball in jail; should they be role models?" Barkley said in 1993, which launched his famous "I am not a role model" Nike ad campaign.
Andrew D. Bernstein, NBAE/Getty Images
As a player, the fiery Barkley had a few run-ins with the law. He was once arrested for breaking a man's nose during a fight after a game with the Bucks, and he once famously threw a man through a plate-glass window after being hit with a glass of ice at a bar.
Orange County Sheriff's Office / AP
After retiring as a player, Barkley joined TNT's 'Inside the NBA,' where he has become the "butt" of many a joke. Literally. In one skit, Barkley was forced to kiss a donkey's posterior after losing a bet with Kenny Smith.
During the 2007 All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas, Barkley took part in a memorable foot race against 67-year-old referee Dick Bavetta. Barkley won the race, while Bavetta dove at the finish line and wound up bloodying his knee.
Nathaniel S. Butler, NBAE/Getty Images
In May, Barkley made headlines after a Las Vegas district attorney said he could face criminal charges if he didn't repay a $400,000 debt owed to the Wynn casino. Sir Charles has since repaid the debt and stated he will quit gambling in the future.
"I think race was the No. 1 factor," said Barkley, who played basketball for three seasons at Auburn during the early 1980s. "You can say it's not about race, but you can't compare the two resumes and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst resume."
"I'm just very disappointed. I just thought Turner Gill would be the perfect choice for two reasons: He's a terrific coach and we needed to make a splash. I thought we had to do something spectacular to bring attention to the program. Clearly, if we'd hired a black coach, it would have created a buzz."
I understand Barkley's frustrations. We are in a situation where there aren't nearly enough minority coaches in big-time college football.
Turner Gill is a great coach who will not finish his career at Buffalo. I have no idea why Auburn didn't hire him, and I have no reason to think Gill wouldn't have taken the job.
But while there are many, many reasons to hate the Chizik hire, I don't think race is one of them. They got a guy who is familiar with Auburn football. Chizik has worked in that environment before, and he cherishes the chance to go back there.
They needed a coach who was charismatic enough and confident enough to stare into the eyes of Alabama coach Nick Saban and not blink.
More than anything else, the Tigers needed to do something to sway some of the momentum away from Tuscaloosa.
Instead, Auburn hired a coach who seemed to be a dead man walking at Iowa State. In recent weeks, Chizik demoted both his coordinators and fired two assistant coaches. That's not a sign of stability.
I may disagree to an extent, but I'm all for Barkley's crusade here. This is an uncomfortable issue that absolutely needs to be addressed. Not only that, but it turns out he has a history of being upset with Auburn over coaching hires.
Barkley, an 11-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medal winner, said he served on Auburn's search committee for a new basketball coach after the 2003-04 season.
Barkley said he told Auburn officials he would serve on the committee only if the school was ready to hire a black coach. Barkley said he presented three African-American candidates for consideration: former Indiana coach Mike Davis, then-Virginia Commonwealth coach Jeff Capel and then-UAB coach Mike Anderson.
Barkley said all three candidates wanted to coach at Auburn. Instead, the Tigers hired then-Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo, a white candidate. Lebo has a 61-68 record in his fifth season at Auburn.
Looks like Barkley was right when it came to the basketball search, based on what's happened since. Time will tell if Auburn dropped the ball on the football search, too.
Auburn | Out: Tommy Tuberville | In: Gene Chizik Tuberville won six straight against rival Alabama before this year's loss and finished undefeated in 2004. Tuberville stepped down after an abysmal year. Auburn's new hire has many alumni and fans up in arms. Click through for other recent coaching changes.
Ned Dishman, Getty Images
Tennessee | Out: Philip Fulmer | In: Lane Kiffin The Vols' longtime coach, who won a national title in 1998, became the face of the program and led Tennessee to the SEC East title last season, stepped down after an implosion of a season. Former Raider coach Kiffin takes over on Rocky Top.
Harry How, Getty Images
Mississippi State | Out: Syvlester Croom | In: Dan Mullen The first African American coach in the SEC ends a rocky tenure with his resignation. Croom led the Bulldogs to a bowl victory last season, but the coach who was hired after a 35-0 loss to Mississippi in 2003 leaves after a 45-0 loss in 2008. Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen takes over.
Matthew Sharpe, Getty Images
Kansas State | Out: Ron Prince | In: Bill Snyder It's deja vu all over again at Kansas State. Three years after he replaced the legendary Snyder, Prince steps down as Wildcats' coach, to be replaced the former coach.
Peter G. Aiken, Getty Images
San Diego State | Out: Chuck Long The Aztecs stumbled to a 2-10 record this season, their worst mark in 25 years and the head coach paid for it, despite two years remaining on his contract. The Aztecs lost to FCS team Cal Poly SLO and, perhaps most embarrassingly, Notre Dame. It appears Ball State's Brady Hoke will be hired as the new Aztec coach this week.
Denis Poroy, AP
Washington | Out: Ty Willingham | In: Steve Sarkisian Willingham's second run through the Pac-10 wasn't nearly as successful as his first. The former Stanford coach wrapped up the season with a loss to Cal, ensuring that the only W in Washington's season was in its name.
Ted S. Warren, AP
Clemson | Out: Tommy Bowden | In: Dabo Swinney The coach who had a standing reservation with the hot seat became the first to be fired this season. After the nation's preseason No. 9 team stumbled to a 3-3 start, Bowden handed in his resignation and was replaced by his assistant, Swinney.
Rex Brown, Getty Images
Eastern Michigan | Out: Jeff Genyk Genyk beat both Central and Western Michigan last season, but 2008, like his 1-11 2006 campaign was a different story, leading to the coach's firing with one game remaining.
G Fiume, Getty Images
Bowling Green State | Out: Gregg Brandon | In: Dave Clawson The Falcons beat Pittsburgh to start the season and finished with a bowl-eligible six wins (though Bowling Green was not selected for postseason play). The Falcons fired Brandon despite a 44-30 record in six seasons.
Ann Heisenfelt, AP
Purdue | Out: Joe Tiller | In: Danny Hope Tiller brought the spread offense, not to mention Wilford Brimley jokes, to the "Cradle of Quarterbacks" and carried Purdue to the 2000 Rose Bowl. But the coach announced his decision to retire prior to the 2008 season with his protege Hope set to take over.