NBA legend Charles Barkley and Alabama head coach Nick Saban may represent rival schools, but it’s pretty clear they share a mutual respect for one another.
Al.com had the great idea to send Barkley, a three-year Auburn letterman, to Tuscaloosa for a sitdown interview with Saban. The two hit it off from the jump.
Before the two sat down in the stands at Coleman Coliseum, Saban made sure to present Barkley with some Tide gear, which Barkley begrudgingly accepted (“I can only wear this at the house!”). The two first talked golf, with Barkley looking for some coaching from Saban, who gave football fans a glimpse into his sense of humor.
“If you can fix my golf game I’d put a statue of you at my house,” Barkley said.
Saban replied with a sheepish smile: “I’m not a golf coach.”
The two talked basketball as well with Saban detailing the program’s pickup games that happen “at least” three times per week between signing day and spring practice. Saban declared himself the “commissioner” of their pickup league. That comes with a few perks.
“At my age, I get to pick my team and I pick the guy on the other team who guards me,” Saban said.
Saban only plays point guard, too, even if Tide basketball coach Avery Johnson, a 17-year NBA veteran who also was an NBA head coach for six seasons, wants to join.
“When Avery came here, I said ‘Look, if you want to play noon-time basketball with us, you might have to move over off the ball because I’m the point guard. You’re going to have to play two-guard,’” Saban said.
Barkley also took a moment to thank Saban for giving “young black men an opportunity after they’ve screwed up.” Saban has been criticized for attempting to “change players’ behavior” instead of keeping them off the field. Barkley appreciates the way Saban tries to help his players.
“Everybody’s an idiot when they’re 18,” Barkley said. “Young kids are going to make mistakes. As a black man, I just wanted to thank you for giving these young black guys an opportunity.”
The whole thing is really worth a watch, especially if you want some insight into Saban’s cooking prowess (or lack thereof) and his under-appreciated sense of humor.
For more Alabama news, visit TideSports.com.
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