Or so says Charles Barkley. I missed the Celtics-Rockets game on Tuesday night, but luckily, my DVR caught Inside the NBA and Charles's take on the non-altercation between Rajon Rondo and Rafer Alston.
Is there a more influential, iconic athlete in our generation than Charles Barkley? He played with The Greatest Ever and retired 8 years ago, and yet his name still pops up in regular conversation. I caught an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians the other day (I'm embarrassed to say), and Bruce Jenner brought up the Chuckster's infamous "I am not a role model" quote to teach Kim a lesson. No, not on how to not act like a slut, but how not to act like a diva because that would negatively influence her younger sisters. I also read an article in SI on pigeon racing awhile back and the author describes pigeons as "the Charles Barkleys of the natural world: unassuming and bottom-heavy yet surprisingly athletic."
I'd rank Charles ahead of MJ, Tiger Woods, and Brett Favre on a scale of influence because while the latter 3 are icons in their respective fields, Charles's influence reaches well beyond the scope of his sport, due in part to his willingness (and the reticence of the other three) to state opinions on divisive matters. Charles has taken on the Church, homophobia, Democrats, Republicans, racists, feminists, Warriors fans, Suns fans. What a breath of fresh air (sometimes hot air) in a "No comment" era. At the end of the day, we know where he stands and I think people respect that more, even if they don't necessarily agree with his stance. Who knows. I may be wrong, but I doubt it. :)