Rolling Out

How Charles Barkley makes magic on TV and deals with critics

The Basketball Hall of Famer is locked in
(Photo credit: A.R. Shaw for rolling out
Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley (Photo by A.R. Shaw for rolling out)

Charles Barkley is a basketball Hall of Famer in two fields now. He got inducted in 2006 as a player and as a media member in 2020 for his work on “Inside the NBA.” Earlier in 2022, Barkley signed a 10-year extension for the immensely popular show in a deal reportedly worth “well north of nine figures.”

The success of his TV career hasn’t come without criticism, however. In recent weeks, Barkley has had some backlash for his criticism of Kyrie Irving; saying the Black community treats gay people worse than any other community; revealing he hasn’t talked to his former best friend, Michael Jordan, in over a decade; and having Kevin Durant call him a clown on Twitter.

At the premiere of Shaquille O’Neal’s “SHAQ” HBO docuseries, Barkley spoke with rolling out about creating great content in the face of criticism and giving back to HBCUs.

What is your advice to anyone who wants to make magical TV? 

Well, you’re not trying to make magical television. I think the most important thing is you’re not trying to [create magic], you’re just trying to do the best you can. You don’t do stuff to say, “I want to make this person happy, this person happy or this person happy.” You want to do the best that you can. Hopefully, they’ll follow that. But you can’t go out searching, trying to make everybody happy. You just have to do the best you can. That’s the most important thing.

What do you think people will learn about Shaq in this docuseries?

There are some things you’re going to learn. His ability as a basketball player – that’s on a separate level. But his ability as a businessman and as a spokesperson, I think that a lot of people can learn from that because he’s a tremendous businessperson. I mean, he’s been amazing for a long time. And that’s the key because what happens is when you quit playing basketball, you become a nobody. You got to start over, so what he’s accomplished is incredible.

Why do you to give back to HBCUs specifically?

Well, I think HBCUs are really important and significant. I started out with Morehouse and Clark here in Atlanta. I think I just did my sixth one with Spelman. I did Tuskegee and Miles, but [I’m] just trying to make a difference, man. Especially [with these] HBCUs, they need all the help they can get.

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