SXsports: Charles Barkley on Social Media

The former NBAer brings his trademark bluntness

Having Charles Barkley on a panel about how to remain relevant in a digital age makes about as much sense as having noted OCD sufferer Marc Summers host a game show where everyone gets slimed and messy. But for what Barkley lacks in subject matter expertise, he makes up for with his blunt, hilarious honesty.

Photo by John Anderson

Barkley is one of the staunchest opponents of the social-media-centric world that has engulfed the sports entertainment industry. Barkley’s disdain for all things Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is based off of a fear of the unwashed masses being allowed to lob uncensored criticisms at him (“I don’t want to give some of these losers the power”), and partly based on the well-founded fear of being drawn into the negativity of social media, calling it “a mean-spirited place.”

The panel was moderated by Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated, who did a good job following up on his stated intention of “shutting the hell up and letting Barkley talk.” The discussion only lingered around the topic of social media for a few minutes until they moved on to Barkley’s skepticism of sports analytics, to the luxury that goes along with not caring if Turner Sports fires him: “If you fire me I’m just going to play golf and fish more.”

The best story that Barkley shared was about how the 76ers told him that they would take him with the fifth pick in the 1984 draft if he cut weight from 305 to 285. Barkley lost the 20 pounds in a matter of weeks, but when he found that Philadelphia was only offering a $75,000 signing bonus, Barkley strung together a weekend filled with multiple meals at Denny’s and steakhouses, and gained back the 20 pounds in 48 hours.

The Sixers drafted him anyway.

How to Remain Relevant in Today’s Digital Age

Friday, March 13, Austin Convention Center

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