Each March, Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith go on loan from their posts on Inside the NBA to do studio coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Barkley may not be a college basketball expert, but he always brings his earnest, unfiltered opinions when it comes to the tournament and the NCAA. That is welcome, particularly when it comes to calling out the NCAA in a way folks whose checks come solely from covering college sports on an NCAA partner can’t, and on Thursday night we got a pretty incredible example of that.
After airing a pretaped sitdown where Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg interviewed the new NCAA president Charlie Baker, CBS turned back to the live studio for reaction to Baker’s thoughts on the current NIL landscape, particularly his stance that he will try to get Congress involved to draft up some form of national NIL legislation. Barkley offered a take only he can get away with on a national network, as he explained it “pisses me off” for a simple reason: “our politicians are awful people.”
New NCAA President (and former Governor of Massachusetts) Charlie Baker says he wants "consumer protections" around NIL, saying he's "gonna talk some with the folks in Washington."
Charles Barkley responded, as only he can. pic.twitter.com/w1XURZ0sEm
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 24, 2023
“Did he say we gon’ ask the politicians to help us? See, that pisses me off already,” Chuck says. “Our politicians are awful people. As I talked to Clark earlier, I would actually go to people who actually care about basketball, not looking at it just in terms – I would put a committee together. I would love for Clark to be on the committee, get some coaches, get some players, and let’s try to work this thing out. We can’t ask these politicians nothin. Those people are awful people – Democrats and Republicans, they’re all crooks.”
This honestly might be the best point Chuck’s made in his entire tenure doing NCAA Tournament coverage. Just from a general standpoint, it’s pretty hard to argue with his political commentary here, but from the specifics of NIL legislation, it’s pretty absurd to try and handle it from by going through national lawmakers rather than the NCAA actually serving as a governing body and putting together actual policies for member schools to abide by. Barkley’s idea of a committee made up of players, coaches, and others who, in his words, “actually care about basketball” would be a much better start to creating effective policy compared to requesting Congress come up with a national NIL law. I also can’t help but chuckle at Barkley getting to go on his rants usually reserved for 1 a.m. ET on TNT on a primetime CBS broadcast.