My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (2018) s05e02 Episode Script

Charles Barkley

[Barkley] We gonna bet on this putt?
What what do you
In terms of wagering, what do you think?
Make it light on yourself.
You got plenty of money.
I was thinking of something, um,
other than money.
If I make this putt, you walk
through the clubhouse with your shirt off.
No, no. I'm not John Cena.
I can't take my shirt off
in public anymore. Those days are over.
Okay, I gotta sink this,
or what do we do if I miss this?
You'll walk through the clubhouse
with your shirt off.
No, no.
That would that would sicken people.
If you go through there
with your shirt off,
everybody says,
"There's Chuck or Charles Barkley."
-They'd be like
-He looks fantastic.
No, they'd be like,
"That guy played in the NBA?!" [chuckles]
[theme music playing]
[Letterman chuckles]
Thank you.
[Letterman chuckles]
Hello. Hello. Thank you.
Oh, come on.
I I like that,
a smattering of standing ovation.
-Other people, not sure.
Uh, this this guy, 1993,
was the NBA Most Valuable Player.
He has won two Olympic gold medals,
and he has been nominated
to the All-Star team,
I think 13 different times in his career,
and he is now, and has been, a member
of the NBA Basketball Hall of Fame.
Ladies and gentlemen,
here we go, Charles Barkley.
[cheering and applause]
-Hi, Charles!
-How you doing?
-Great to see you.
-Good to see you.
Look at this.
Thank you.
[raucous cheering and applause]
All right.
Charles, thank you so much
for being here
-It's an honor.
-Well, no. The honor is mine.
These people
had nothin' else to do tonight.
-In New York City.
[light whooping]
It's a pretty good ticket to have, though,
my friend.
You know, I appreciate it.
Thank you for having me. It's an honor.
Thanks again for your time. Uh
Could you play in today's NBA?
-It's a lot easier to play today 'cause
-Why is it easier?
'Cause there's no physicality.
You just run around and shoot threes.
Well, now, what about Draymond Green
clotheslining a guy,
punching his own teammate?
-There are exceptions to the rule.
Uh, that's actually a perfect example.
If you hit anybody,
you gonna be gone for five or ten games.
I looked at that documentary
with Michael Jordan about the last dance.
All those fouls that he was getting
beat up by the Pistons,
you'd get suspended
for five, ten, 15 games today,
but that was just the way
the game was played.
But you know what I
what haunts me is I remember as a kid,
listening to Bill Russell
talk about basketball,
and and in those days,
I don't know what the game number was.
-Maybe it was 60, 68, 65, not 82.
And he talked about running
up and down the court every night
for the entire season
was just physically very hard.
So how how are people
And you get Preseason games,
you got Playoff games,
you have the In-Season Tournament
that the Pacers almost won. Thank you.
[light laughter]
So it's it's gotta take its toll
regardless of the physicality.
Any sport
Your body's not meant
to play that many games.
-Uh, it's just not.
But then they talk about resting teams,
so or players
so they're able to play
the rest of the season,
so people don't get to see them
-But they fixed that.
I hate that, that they're resting players.
I mean
You know, we rested for $2 million.
They're resting for 40, 50 million.
-That's really good rest!
-I was like, "Damn!"
The way it works is you're only gonna
go out west one time a year.
Now, somebody in San Francisco or LA,
they're only gonna get
to play there one time a year,
and, especially if you're a great player,
I think you have an obligation
to play every game that you're healthy.
Now, if you're hurt,
that's a totally different animal.
-And tickets to an NBA game now are what?
-Oh, ridiculous.
I mean, well, it depends on what city.
Listen, these people in New York,
they paying $5,000 for it,
and the Knicks ain't worth $5,000.
-Let's get that out of the way.
The Knicks are not worth $5,000.
But, you know,
the tickets are so expensive now,
normal people can't go,
and that's unfortunate.
Sports are one
of the most unique things in the world
where you
everybody, like, love their team,
they love their favorite player,
but you should be able
to go to an NBA game.
You know, you factor in parking
Can you imagine taking your family
and trying to grab a couple hot dogs,
you know, a couple beers?
You're talkin'
hundreds and hundreds of dollars,
and most people can't afford it,
and that's really sad.
You mentioned, um, the NBA as being
a sport for everybody in the world.
As members of the Olympic team,
two gold-medal-winning teams.
-And then the first one,
before they were professional teams,
you were not on that team.
Broke your heart a little bit.
Am I right about that?
It it was
Yes, because I should've made the team.
Bobby Knight didn't like me.
Rest in peace.
-Makes it sound like you had him killed.
That's right.
I've never said a bad word
about Bobby Knight, and, uh
Uh But it was so crazy.
When he died, everybody was calling me.
I said, "Yo, man. If you guys think
that I'm gonna say somethin' bad
about that man who just passed away,
that's not gonna happen."
Now, why do you think
Why weren't you part of his Olympic team?
What was the issue? Was it
You certainly could play.
I think he went into it with a perception
of how I was as a player.
-You were a kid then.
-I was.
-How old were you? 19?
-I was 18, 19.
Maybe even 20 because I think
I was a sophomore in college.
But the way it worked out was
I wasn't sure how good I was
as a basketball player,
but what they did was they invited
the top 120 players in the country,
they cut it to 100, 80, 60, 40, 20,
and then they cut it down to 16,
but it really helped my confidence
to play against those guys.
So, even though I didn't make it,
I was disappointed,
it was a really good thing for me
from a confidence standpoint.
It seems to me now, and maybe it happened
and I wasn't paying attention,
players can almost build their own team.
Is that a legitimate perspective?
I hate that perspective.
-It's But it's authentic.
-It's true.
They have so much money
and so much power now.
I really hate that perspective.
You wanna win because of hard work,
not because you stacked your team.
That started during the LeBron era,
and it's really disappointing
because if I had've known that,
I would've built my own super team.
[commentator] Whoops!
The sucker play by Barkley. Does it work?
Charles Barkley! He's not human!
You played for three teams. Philadelphia
-Phoenix and Houston.
-Phoenix and Houston.
I was talking
to Reggie Miller not long ago.
Eighteen years,
he played for the Indiana Pacers.
-Yeah. That just is unheard of now.
It's amazing, and he's one
of the greatest players ever,
one of the good dudes ever,
and he had his chances,
and that's all you want.
I had my chances.
We lost to the Bulls in the championship.
We lost to the Rockets
back-to-back years in seven games
when they won the championship.
-I'm I'm good.
But you know,
Adam Silver said something smart.
Yes, it may not be
the way things have been,
but it's really beneficial for fans.
They like the idea of people
movin' themselves around
and placing different teams
in different competitions
-He's wrong.
It's great for where they go.
It's shitty for where they left.
That's what people don't understand.
If you go back and look
at the collateral damage,
every superstar
who forced his way off a team,
that team was in ruins
for many, many years.
So, as much as I like Adam,
I disagree with him.
I keep thinkin',
when you talk about teams struggling
and rebuilding for years and years,
just in all honesty,
the Knicks are still in the league, right?
The Knicks Believe it or not,
the Knicks are relevant this year.
-[man] Yeah! Go Knicks!
-[cheering and applause]
I wanna, uh, find out here, uh
who's gonna win the NBA?
-The Pacers this year, right?
-[light laughter]
The Pacers have a chance,
but the Boston Celtics
are gonna win the championship.
-You think so?
-I do. I think they got the best team.
Now, would you bet on that game?
If somebody gave me the chance right now,
I would take the Celtics.
You What I know about you vaguely
is you don't mind betting.
Well, you can't die with all this money.
But, you know, that's
that's the other thing.
The other thing I know about you
is your goal, and maybe it's changed,
each year, you wanna give to causes,
worthy causes, a million bucks.
Is that Am I accurate about that?
I've done it for, like, the last 20 years.
That's my goal.
I've been so lucky.
Not trying to be humble.
I've been so lucky and blessed.
So I started out at my high school,
a couple schools around my neighborhood
who needed money,
and then I did Wounded Warriors.
The last eight years, I did HBCUs.
You know,
we're the luckiest people in the world.
It's kinda like my TV job now.
I says, "Wait a minute."
"Y'all are gonna pay me
to watch basketball?"
I was like, "I'mma watch anyway!"
[soft jazz playing]
[indistinct chatter]
-[Letterman] You get tired of watchin'?
-Yes. Yes.
-Yes. Hard yes.
-Well, he doesn't watch the games.
-[Letterman] Does anybody doze off here?
-[Barkley] Oh yeah.
-Oh, we definitely doze off.
-[Smith] Those are his four TVs
-[Barkley] I'm watching Yeah.
-There's no basketball really on those.
I'm watching Law & Order tonight.
I'm not watching these games.
-Yeah. Can I sit over here?
-[Smith] Yes.
[Letterman] Excuse me.
Don't let me get in the way.
Is there pressure
to what you guys are doing out there?
-[Barkley] Out there?
-[Barkley] Oh no.
There's nothing gonna happen in a game
that Charles, myself, or Shaq
didn't do, see, or heard.
When you're doing a show,
you gotta learn a lot of shit
about other people.
Like, it's just basketball. It's Yeah.
Are you surprised
that sports seems to have dominated,
or, if not that,
subsumed American culture?
Well, it makes
a certain group of people happy.
Like, when your team is doing well,
you don't have any problems at home.
It's amped up during the Playoffs.
You're down
to the final three or four teams.
It gets really exciting.
But the whole city is on fire.
That's the difference.
When I was
The Pacers let me sit right there
at one end of the court.
-And everything goes on nonstop.
It's like Cirque du Soleil
in timeouts and everything.
And at one point, the mascot comes over,
and he's got this giant head.
What's the mascot's name?
Thumper, Thump, Humper?
-What's his name?
-From Indiana? I have no idea.
Anyway, that's him.
And he comes over, and so now
he leans right over to talk to me,
like I would lean in and talk to your ear,
except he's got the big head.
So we're still this far apart,
and he says to me,
"About 20 years ago,
I used to work with your mother."
[laughs heartily]
And I said to him,
"Yeah, a lot of guys did."
Now, I don't even That means nothing,
but I didn't know what to say
to the guy with the big head.
She was a lovely woman, really. Yeah.
Shaq! Some of the crew,
we all go out and have a drink
'cause you're kind
of wired after the show.
There's a dive bar up the street we go to,
and Shaq doesn't drink.
He's like, "You guys are assholes.
I got nothin' to do after the show."
Then he comes in, like, two weeks later,
"I solved my problem."
We're like, "What you do?"
He says, "I bought a hookah bar."
You bought a bar? A hookah bar?
-[Shaq] So it'll always be open at 2 a.m.
-That lets you know he got too much money.
[chuckles] But do you do a lotta
Is there a brisk business
in the hookah bar?
-Would it make me dizzy?
What would happen?
It has no effect on anything.
It's a waste of time!
-[Letterman] So you are addicted?
If you do somethin' every day,
you're addicted.
-I guess.
-I can stop anytime I want.
Yo! I want some of that.
I want some of that.
-"I could stop anytime I want."
-I want some o' that.
-Anytime I want, I can stop.
-I got the under.
I will say this is a conversation
I never thought I'd have.
Um, so I could go in there
and grab a hose too?
-And what do you charge?
If I go in there, I say,
"Give me the Shaq Special?"
-You? Free.
-Yeah, if I went in there.
-Free for you.
Thank God!
Finally, this is beginning to pay off.
What about your buddy Shaquille O'Neal?
You know, he's a really good dude.
When did you guys
Did you overlap in careers?
We did, but what's really crazy,
our moms were best friends.
They always get these moms together,
the NBA moms, and for some reason,
his mom and my mom connected,
and I used to scream
at my mom all the time.
'Cause I was retired.
And my mom would take
three or four vacations a year
with Shaq's mom.
And I said,
"Mom, I just got your damn bills."
She said, "Well, baby,
I gotta pay my share."
I said, "Mom,
I don't make money like Shaq."
Shaq's mom, Miss Lucille, is amazing.
So me and Shaq,
so we got to fightin' in a game.
[commentator] Uh-oh. Oh!
There's a swing by O'Neal!
[Barkley] And, before we got
to the locker room,
his mom had called him,
and my mom called me and said,
"What the hell is wrong with y'all?"
"Walk over there and apologize right now."
So we bump into each other
in the hallway, like, "Where you goin'?"
"Where you goin'?"
"Well, my mama told me
to come apologize to you,"
and we laugh about that to this day.
Let's talk a little bit about your family.
Your, uh your mom and your grandmother.
My grandmother's the greatest person ever,
and my mom was a close second.
You know, I'm from a small town
of a couple thousand people.
-Yes. Leeds, Alabama.
About a half an hour
outside of Birmingham.
My mom was a maid, and my grandmother
worked in a meat factory.
Uh, they worked so hard.
One of my brothers died at a young age,
and so raising three boys in the projects
in a small town in Alabama, they worked
Your father was there and then not there?
-He was never there.
-Never there.
He left when I was a little kid,
and he might've came to see me
five to seven times my entire life.
-Did your dad ever see you play?
-Never in high school.
The only time he saw me play was in LA
'cause he moved to California.
He didn't just move in the neighborhood.
He moved from Alabama to California.
I was such an asshole early in my career
'cause I was angry at the world.
I used to say to myself before the game,
"Kick everybody's ass to stick it to 'em."
I tell all young guys this.
If you play on the edge, it's just
a matter of time before you go over.
I crossed the line several times.
And I remember sitting there cryin',
thinkin', like, "Yo, man."
"What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"Why are you so angry?
You're great at basketball."
"What are you mad at?"
And I was just talking to myself.
That's how stupid I am.
I'm talking to myself.
And I made up my mind that night.
Said, "Hey, you got to let
that thing go with your dad."
That's a lot to let go.
It It But you know, David,
it changed my entire life,
as far as, like, you can't play angry.
I don't know what's going on with Draymond
or Dennis Rodman,
Mike Tyson,
I consider somebody a casual friend.
If you on that line all the time,
you gonna cross it many, many times,
so that was the turning point for me.
But, like you said,
it it was a lot to get over too,
because especially when my dad tried
to come back 'cause now I'm a star.
And then, when we'd go to LA, he's like,
"I want you to come and meet my friends."
And he would show me off
like I was a show pony.
-And I was like, "Okay."
"Chill. You said you're gonna let it go.
Let it go."
And then he got sick,
and one of my friends said to me,
"Hey, man. I need a favor."
I said, "What you need?" He says,
"I need you to make amends with your dad
'cause once your dad's gone,
you never gonna have a dad again."
And then I sat my dad down. I said,
"I'm too old for you to be my dad."
"We're gonna be friends."
"I forgive you for all the bullshit
that you put me through,"
because, you know,
the main reason I was angry, David,
to be honest with you,
was we were really, really poor.
And my dad would call me, and say,
"Hey, I'm sending y'all some money."
You know, I'm a little kid,
like, I'm waiting by the mailbox,
like, "It's gonna be there,
like, here, here, or here."
And I'm waiting
by the mailbox, like, every day,
and the shit never came.
But I'm a little kid.
You know, you can keep it moving.
I said, "My mom out there
scrubbing these people floors."
I'm I'm starting to be a teenager now,
and I'm really not happy, you know,
but, you know, I had to get over all that.
[gentle music playing]
[Letterman] I have been told
this is all last minute.
-[Johnson] For them, yes.
-[Letterman] For them.
[Johnson] I've been here
since 11 o'clock this morning,
so all this prep and all this stuff
is what I did.
-Oh my God. Look at this!
What is that?
Is that every game in the league?
Every game that we have that night, yeah.
I've been told by broadcasting experts
that the show is, uh
Like, you are both the icing and the cake,
and these guys are candles
that you have trouble lighting.
That's what I've been told.
I would never say that.
The best description I've heard
is I'm the dad driving cross country
with these three guys in the backseat,
"If I hear one more peep outta you,
I'm turning this thing around!"
But now, why isn't that a show?
-You must've pitched it somewhere.
-No, I'm sorry I even brought that up.
I've spent now the better part
of close to two days with Chuck.
-I'm sorry.
There's something magnetic about him.
-Am I making that up?
-No, he's a people guy.
And if you ever see him out,
everyone congregates around him,
and he takes time with everybody.
Examples of strength
and weaknesses of Charles.
Speaks his mind. Never holds back,
just like when he was a player,
most quotable guy in the league,
and he's that way now.
You see a lot of athletes
morph into the sportscaster guy,
and then, all of a sudden,
when the light goes on,
they scale it back, and he doesn't.
So he's forthcoming
with everything he needs.
In fact, there are things
that you probably don't wanna know
that he volunteers, like
Well doesn't wear underwear.
-He doesn't wear underwear?
-He said he burned 'em all at one time.
He's never used an ATM.
Okay, let's go back to the underwear
because I've never used an ATM.
-But I'm wearing underwear.
-Yeah. As am I.
Anybody? Underwear? Show of hands.
Uh He shares too much.
Is that maybe a weakness?
-No, we enjoy it when he shares.
-I see.
So the man, actually, for your purposes,
has no weakness.
-None I've seen in 20-something years.
-That's remarkable.
Well, I mean, unless you consider
Krispy Kremes a weakness of his.
I wanna go to the point
when you are in a hotel room
feeling bad about yourself.
I don't know whether
that was college, high school,
or your first time playin'
for Philadelphia,
but Moses Malone, uh
was an important person for you.
[Barkley] He's the most important person
in my basketball life.
I was the number-five pick in the Draft,
and I wasn't getting to play.
And Moses just happened
to live in the same building as me.
And I said, "Moses,
can I come up and see you tonight?"
He says, "Sure, young fella."
So I go upstairs.
I say, "Moses,
why am I not getting to play?"
He says, "Well, young fella,
you fat and you lazy."
I'm like, "What do you mean?"
He said,
"Which part didn't you understand?"
He says, "Son, you got a lotta talent,
but you outta shape."
"You weigh 295 pounds."
So you played at close to 300 pounds?
-Yes, in the beginning.
And, see, the problem, David, is
I could get away with it in college,
but when you get to the NBA,
you playin' against the best of the best.
He says, "If you want me
to help you lose weight, I will."
And I said, "Okay."
He met me before, met me after.
I get to 290.
He says, "Lose ten more pounds."
I get to 280.
And I'm starting to get to play.
He says, "Let's get to 270."
I got to 250, which is what I played at.
I got to 240,
but I had no strength, and I felt drained,
and he says, "250 is your playing weight."
And the rest is history.
I'm so thankful for him, Dr. J,
uh, Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks,
and Bobby Jones.
They talked to me about dressing.
They taught me how to save my money.
So I always tell people,
but the most important person is Moses.
If he hadn't told me I was fat and lazy
You know, hey!
I told people. They said,
"What'd you do after he told you that?"
I says, "I did like any man would do.
I went downstairs and cried."
Are there more superstars
in the NBA now than when you played,
or is it still about the same?
It's it's probably less.
There's less great players.
They don't get to develop in college
like they should,
so you can leave college
after one year now.
We all had to stay in college
for three or four years,
and there's not a person in here, like
I don't even know
what any of these people do,
but if you asked them, like
If they'd have gave me my job right now
after six months of college,
I'm probably gonna fail
or not be as effective.
Goin' to college for three or four years
is a huge advantage.
-Yeah. It's maturation on many points.
-Mentally and physically.
And I don't know if we can ever
put the toothpaste back in the tube.
Guys are only gonna go
to college for one year now,
and it's not
I don't think that's the best system.
Not the best system,
but I I was growing weary of seeing
NCAA athletes in all sports
uh, gettin' knocked around and beat up
and not being able
to afford a life after college.
Meanwhile, it was a multibillion-dollar
industry for somebody.
Yeah, it's that is
the great debate goin' on now,
and I love the players gettin' some money.
I'm not sure that the system we have
in place right now is the best thing.
Paying a couple guys
on the team 3, 4, 5 million dollars
'Cause most of these schools
can't afford that.
The big powerhouses,
they always gonna be able
to raise a lotta money.
Ball State is not gonna
be paying a lotta players.
-We'll be right back.
Uh, but one other thing here,
and I keep sidetracking myself.
You mentioned the WNBA.
The highest-paid female athlete
in the WNBA is, like, 230
-$230,000, $240,000 a year.
And and I
I think Steph Curry, Golden State,
is making $50 million plus a year.
-I mean
Anyway, we're not gonna get that solved,
I don't think, now.
Well, I don't think
you're gonna get it solved because,
number one, uh
we need to pay the WNBA players more.
What's goin' be very interesting
You asked that question.
Well, yeah,
but what's gonna be very interesting
The best female player
in the country right now is Caitlin Clark.
She's phenomenal.
She's gonna be the number one pick.
It's actually held
by your team in Indiana.
-The Fever?
-The Fever.
Yeah, because
if you've ever spent time in Indiana
sure as hell
you're goin' home with a fever.
But what's gonna be
very interesting for her,
the Fever had
a number one pick in the draft,
and obviously they're gonna take her
'cause she's the best player.
But you just said
the highest-paid WNBA player's $200,000.
She's probably making
three to five million in college.
[Letterman] Mm.
It's I You gotta stay in college.
-[light laughter]
-No, I mean that.
She's gonna have to make that decision,
and she's gonna be like,
"I don't wanna disrespect
the people of Indiana,
but I can't leave college while I'm making
three to five million dollars
for $200,000." Those numbers don't add up.
[whimsical classical music playing]
[Letterman] Don't you get tired
playin' 18 holes?
You play before you gotta go to work?
[Barkley] No, not normally,
but I play pretty much on every off day.
-Is this gonna be all right here, Chuck?
-Yeah, this is fine.
All right. Okay.
-Is there a putter in here I can use?
-There's one in there.
You got two putters!
That's how good you are.
Yeah, because I never quite figured out
whether I was left or right handed.
[chuckles] You probably should know that.
Well, yeah, but, in baseball,
I can hit from either side of the plate.
-[Barkley] Oh, you that good?
-[Letterman] Am I ever?
-Oh, that's a terrific shot. Look at that!
-That might go in.
That might go in.
-Oh, Chucky!
-That was pretty good right there.
Nice. Nice.
Now, that might go in.
[Barkley] Ugh!
[Letterman] Oh, it woulda gone in.
-I think it woulda.
We're like we're playing boccie, Chuck.
I hear a lot of people saying,
"Oh, if you see Charles,
ask him about his golf swing."
I had a nervous twitch.
-I was chok
-Akin to the yips?
-Oh, I had the yips badly.
And I met a new teacher
who changed my life.
All over the country now,
people are investing in yips clinics.
[Barkley] Golf is gonna give me the yips.
-All right, now please be quiet.
-[chuckling] Okay.
-I'm tired of you running your mouth.
-[both chuckle]
Break! Break, you bastard!
-Oh, Jesus.
Oh-ho, dang.
All right, now finish it up here.
Okay, here we go.
-[Barkley] Oh, this is a
-[Letterman] So far, we're even.
-All right.
-Okay. Well, we were.
NBA's given me
every single thing in my life.
I love basketball for that single fact.
I have a feeling that the same little kid
born in Leeds, Alabama
would've found his way to success,
whatever pursuit.
Yeah, but it wouldn't have been the same.
-You don't know that, do you?
-No. Well, because
Uh, trust me. I saw my grades.
Yeah, but irrespective of your grades.
Look at me. I was a C student.
Yeah, but you got a talent.
Like, there's no talk-show host
that's been around as long as you
unless you're great at your job.
I believe that your light
would've shined regardless.
I'mma just say this.
If you were David Letterman the plumber,
we probably wouldn't be
on this green talking.
I'd be the best
Hey! Holy shit! What is that?
That fucker is haunted! Hey! Run!
Now, when you were a kid, you didn't seem
like a natural athlete, did you?
You know, it is so interesting.
My mom used to give me a lot of crap.
So I almost died as a baby. I was anemic.
I had to get a blood infusion.
I forget what they call it.
-Yeah, something like that.
-That's a drink too. Um
'Cause I'm the only tall person
in my family.
And my mom used to joke,
"I don't know
what kind of blood they gave you,
but thank God they did
because you're the only tall person."
"You're makin' a good living with that."
You were the first Black baby
in that hospital?
-Is that a piece of this puzzle or
What do we make of that then?
What do we make of it now?
Anything, nothing?
One of the reasons
I'm so passionate about race,
to make sure I always fight racism
I love talking about it. I love, like
And I hold everybody accountable.
I was upset
when you made the reference
that you didn't think America had racism.
It's like the other day
on me and Gayle's show,
we were talking about Nikki Haley.
She said that racism
has never existed in America.
And I says,
"Well, she's got a great point."
I mean, if you take away the slavery.
-Uh, segregation.
-Jim Crow.
-Jim Crow. Yeah.
She's got a point.
It's been, like, great for Black folks.
-[chuckles] Wow.
-And obviously
And it really bothered me for a
'Cause, you know, right now,
we've got a lot anti-Semitism going on.
You know, last couple of years,
we had a lot of Asian hate going on.
And I say, "Words matter."
Growing up in Alabama,
the year I was born was the year
they bombed the church in Birmingham,
then you had the Selma Massacre.
I was also one
of the first three Black students
to integrate another school,
and my grandma said,
"Hey, when you're old enough
to understand this stuff,
you need to learn about it,
don't forget, talk about it all the time."
I mean, she says, like,
"Hey, I need you to read about this dude."
I said, "What's his name?"
"Dr. Martin Luther King."
I was like, "Okay. Who is he?" She said,
"See? That's why you need to read?"
She said,
"You need to know all this stuff."
"Your life's gonna be
totally different than ours one day,
but I don't want you
to forget where you came from."
"It's important. It's significant."
When you're from Alabama,
you need to know all this stuff.
Are things different now
for you as an adult man
than what you described
as a young fellow in Alabama?
Black celebrities, rich Black people,
don't get treated like common Black folks.
Now, I don't mean "common"
like unimportant now.
'Cause, you know, I don't want
y'all to be on TV sayin',
"Well, he said this.
This is what he meant."
I'm like, "I know what I fucking meant,
and I know what I said."
That shit drives me crazy.
Uh, so I think it's really important
to talk about
You know, I don't get treated
like regular Black people.
No rich person or famous person does.
America has always had a race problem.
Has it gotten better? 100%.
But what I like to talk
about is economic racism.
If you're white and poor
and Black and poor,
you're really in the same boat.
You're going to be born
into a shit neighborhood.
You're going to go to an inferior school.
You already I use the baseball analogy.
Like, yeah, there's gonna
be some exceptions,
but if you put people
up to bat in baseball,
and they got two strikes against them,
most people are gonna strike out.
Black people and poor white people,
they deserve an opportunity
to be successful,
and until we address that,
we are never gonna be
the complete country we deserve to be.
Uh Are you
For example, the election coming up,
and people are saying,
"Well, this is very important
because it could be
the end of democracy in this country."
And I suppose it could.
On the other hand, democracy is
what got us to what may end the democracy.
-So are you are you full of anxiety?
You don't seem like a guy
who is anxious about much,
but but having this ahead of us
Yeah, you know, I'm deeply concerned
about the political climate.
-I'm gonna need names.
-All politicians.
-Uh-huh. Okay.
You know, see, I can pick anybody
outta this audience right now.
If we had an intelligent conversation,
we wouldn't disagree on every subject.
And both parties suck.
Let's get that out of the way.
-Both parties suck.
-Both parties suck.
Fair enough, sure.
And they just fight like little kids.
"Well, you want something."
"I'm just gonna disagree with you
just to disagree."
I'm like, "That's not the way
the world should be."
I'm always gonna be hopeful
because if you're not hopeful,
you're pessimistic.
Are you hopeful now, knowing
we have an election in less than a year?
Two guys in their eighties, uh and and
-I'm pretty close to that.
So I can say it,
but does that make you hopeful?
No. I don't like either guy.
Wouldn't you rather
we had a younger person?
-On either side of the ticket.
And I think that President Biden
has always been a good man.
He served his country.
I just think he's too old.
Now, President Trump
I don't think
the president should act like that.
-[chortles] I'm sorry, but yeah!
-Hello! [laughs]
And I was like, "You're the President
of the United States."
"Whether I agree with your policies
or not, you represent the United"
"You should act a certain way."
But just let's just say he wins,
does that trouble you?
It troubles me but for the simple fact
I think he gonna spend the next four years
just goin' after enemies.
That doesn't pay anybody's bills.
Are you worried
about the end of a democracy?
No, I never No, I don't I don't I
No. Democracy is vote for who you want to.
-[Letterman] Right.
-That's democracy.
Millions of people voted for him,
so that's the beauty
That's right. That's democracy in action.
But if the man is talking about putting
an end to that freedom of voting, then
That's I don't like scare tactics.
-Yeah, but see, I'm frightened, but
-Well, I'm fright
-Yeah. I'm concerned.
Because I think we have
way more good people than bad people.
I couldn't agree more.
Just, it's
whatever kind of person you are,
just try to be true to yourself
and go ahead
and politely follow that motivation,
and, if you're a jerk on either side,
well, do a little work and clean that up.
-You know?
I agree. Us sitting around talkin' about
who's a bad person and things like that,
I get sick of that BS,
to be honest with you.
And you know, man, let's make sure
these people got a good job,
their kids are safe,
they go to a good school.
I think that's all most people want.
Now, when you use the initials BS,
what exactly are you talkin' about?
-You know, it's interesting.
-Say it, Charles!
But, you know, I love being on a show
where I can actually curse.
I love when I can stay "bullshit."
-There you go!
-I do.
[cheering and applause]
Earlier, you mentioned racism,
you mentioned anti-Semitism,
and you mentioned a bias toward Asians.
It it seems like
Let's just say that these things
collectively had been worked on
to help equality across the board,
and I wonder if that goes away.
Well, first of all,
we shoulda addressed them sooner.
-Oh. Yeah, exactly.
-But, you see, the house is on fire now.
We should've addressed these situations
way back
and say, "Hey, any hate crime,
we're gonna make your ass pay for it."
But now, people are feeling comfortable
being racist.
And I'm gonna say this,
and I say this all the time,
anybody anybody who's racist,
is an asshole.
I am not a role model.
Just because I dunk a basketball
doesn't mean I should raise your kids.
[Letterman] Years and years ago,
you went to Nike for an ad campaign
about "I'm not a role model."
And the idea was,
"Yeah, I'm playing basketball,
and yeah, I'm making a lotta money,
but I'm not a role model."
And it was effective
because it opened a conversation.
But the truth of it is,
because of who you are,
whether you accept that responsibility
or not, it's gonna happen.
Now, do you feel differently
about it these days?
No, because you got the point.
It opened up a conversation.
So, you know, a lot of NBA players
and all jocks
go speak at different schools.
And then, obviously,
we have too many way segregated schools
in this country, but I noticed something.
When I would go
to a predominantly white school,
I always ask this question,
"How many of y'all wanna play pro sports?"
Only like 5% raised their hand.
I said, "What do you wanna do?"
"I wanna be a doctor."
"I wanna be a lawyer."
"I wanna be an engineer."
Teacher, fire and policeman,
something like that.
But the problem, Dave, was when I would go
to the predominantly Black school,
I'd say,
"How many of y'all wanna play sports?"
95% raised their hand.
Finally, after I'd been
to 30 or 40 schools,
I said, "Hey, man.
These Black kids are brainwashed."
"They think they can only play sports
to be successful."
And I said, "I wanna make this commercial.
I'm gonna start a debate."
'Cause I want these Black kids to know
y'all can be doctors.
Y'all can be lawyers.
Y'all can be engineers.
Y'all can be teachers.
Y'all can be firemen.
How old were you when you did that?
Just a kid, right?
-26, 27.
But I will tell you this.
Give Nike credit.
Nike called me back, like, a year later.
They says, "We were wrong."
95% of the letters we got were positive.
Parents came up to me
all over the country,
sayin', "Hey, thank you
for making that commercial," you know.
And and to this day,
I'm really proud of that.
You know, you talk a lot about defense.
Oh, Chuck!
I talk a lot about it.
I didn't play a lot. [chuckles]
Uh, but what golf needs
is somebody playing defense.
It'd be a completely different game
if they had a guy on ya.
Golf is hard enough
when you play by yourself.
Yeah, but think in terms
of extreme sports.
You're teein' off, you got a guy on ya.
I'm not sure, if I'm swinging a golf club,
you wanna be standing right there.
He's got the proper padding.
Don't worry about that.
-Have you ever played up at Pebble Beach?
-I have.
Two days ago, before we came down here,
I knew we were gonna do this.
-The Spyglass?
I shot a 64.
-No, you didn't.
-You callin' me a liar?
Let's use the term fibber.
-64, you
-You know Gary, the starter? Call him.
Uh, did you just pull Gary out your ass?
-[both chuckle]
-[Letterman] How are the grandkids?
Outta all the stuff
that's happening in my life,
little Henry and little Charlie,
being a grandpa is the greatest thing.
Well, we're also talking
about three months ago.
Then he learned how to walk
and all hell broke loose.
He was so cute in the beginning.
He'd just lay on my arm.
I'd have a beer in this hand
and him in this hand,
and I'd kiss him, like, every 15 seconds.
And then, like six months ago,
he learned how to walk and run,
and he won't stay still
for anything in the damn world!
Uh, but I have to build
my whole day around the nap
'cause, you know, there's two things
you do when you get old.
Anytime you eat,
you have to have a nap after you eat.
And then, any time you play
for an extended period time,
you have to have another nap.
-How old are you, Chuck?
-I'll be 61 on February 20th.
-Oh, Jesus.
-Yeah. It's It's It's, uh
It's it's interesting, gettin' old.
Yeah. Well, thank you.
No, it's just so funny. I just saw Dr. J.
We had a drink, and he says,
"Remember giving me shit when I was 35?"
'Cause, you know, when you get to the NBA,
you're 19, 20.
-We'd call him "Uncle," "Grandpa."
And he says, "And now you're 60."
I said, "Yeah, it's not as fun
as it used to be back then."
[whimsical classical music playing]
-[Letterman] Wow, that's on the highway.
-That was not good.
That wasn't good.
[Letterman chuckles] Whoa, the high heat.
That wasn't good.
-That's still not good.
Talk about the Pacers goin' all the way,
and they're gonna win.
-I didn't say they're going all the way.
-I'm saying it. They're goin' all the way.
-I wouldn't
-No. The kid's back, playin' great ball.
They lost a tough one.
You were telling me
that you thought LeBron was way too old.
He is old.
-No, you said, "He's way, way too old."
-No, LeBron is way old.
Yes, he is. I agree with that.
Okay, here we go.
-[Barkley] Oh!
-[chuckles] Jesus!
Sorry! Sorry, sir!
-That was good, though, wasn't it, Chuck?
-No, that wasn't good.
No, no, but how about the shot itself?
-No, that was
Chuck, he hit it!
-[golfer] Good one, Chuck!
-Yeah. Here comes another one!
-Open the face up.
-You open your face up.
-Open the face up.
-The face is open.
So, the way you've got it,
this is what you're gonna get,
but this is what you want.
[Letterman] Mm.
-Like that. So just open the face up.
Okay, it's wide open now.
Oh yeah.
Whoa, Jesus!
Whoo! Did you sign the waiver?
You were not
on a championship-winning team?
Are Are How Are you okay with that?
I mean, I know that's a stupid question.
At the time No, you're heartbroken.
Even an MVP, which to me is the equal
It's interesting
when I'm asked that question.
I'm like, "Yeah, I'm disappointed
that I didn't win a championship,"
but, like number one, it's a team game.
But I'm not sure, like
If you want me to be upset,
that's not gonna happen.
-I'm pretty damn sure my life is good.
I say, "I've had a good run."
Give me a couple seconds
right before I keel over
and say, "Hey, man."
"What a journey. What a ride."
You know 'cause I
You know, when you're in that little town
of 2,000 people, you're like,
"Where is this thing gonna go?"
'Cause, you know,
'cause it's so many cycles,
you're like, "Okay, I got lucky.
I got a scholarship to go to college."
Then I go to the NBA, and I'm like,
"Oof! This is I have no idea
how this thing is gonna work out."
-Then you turn into a great player.
-Hall of Fame.
Yes, I did that for 16 years,
and you're like, "What's next?"
And then I go to being a crook
stealing money on television.
[Inside the NBA theme playing]
[Letterman] Any place here?
[Barkley] Ladies and gentlemen, legend.
-[Letterman] Hi, kids.
How are ya?
-Am I able to sit here?
-[Johnson] Yep, that's you.
Wow, this is cool.
I need to be a little closer
because when I go to a restaurant,
they usually put me in a special chair.
Okay, now. Ow! I'm good, I'm fine.
-Ow! I'm not fine. Don't worry. [chuckles]
-Five, four, three, two
And what an honor
it is for us here on Inside
to have David Letterman.
Thank you very much.
It's great fun to be here.
-As an Indianapolis-born kid
were you the prototype, like,
everybody in Indiana grows up
with a hoop in the backyard?
-Always playing?
-Well, yes. That's exactly right.
And I'm concerned that, over the years,
that legend, the myth of that,
has been usurped,
uh and I'm pointing the finger
at my good friends, the Indiana Pacers,
who, by the way,
Chuck has now picked to go all the way.
Mr. Letterman,
is this what retirement is like for you?
-'Cause you're
-This is Are you kidding me?
First of all, I'm out of the house.
That's great.
-And I just love bein' on TV.
So this is this is the
the jewel in the crown, my friend.
You know, one of our traditions
here on the show
is when Chuck makes a guarantee.
I heard about this. This is so exciting.
We can just drop things
out of the ceiling on him.
Tonight, could be hammers.
Wait, you gotta make a guarantee!
You're such an easy communicator.
It It's That really is a gift,
so you've been blessed twice.
Um, and you talk about you don't think
you'll be doing television when you're 70.
I disagree.
I think it comes so easy to you,
so naturally to you,
not just in the realm of basketball,
not just in the world of sports,
but from what I've seen you
in other venues and other topics,
so you tell me, when you're 70,
you're not gonna be working.
-W Well, I damn sure hope not.
Now, why do you say that?
Because you you you'd be goin'
where would you go to talk to people?
-I guess anywhere.
No, no. You know
Like, when people come up to me,
I've had people say,
"You're the most accessible star ever."
I says, "Yo, man."
"If somebody take the time
to come up to say hello to me,
I'm gonna say hello."
I'm not gonna say,
"Hey, I'm too important."
I says, "You know why?
'Cause I played basketball."
I'm not a teacher. I'm not a fireman.
I'm not a policeman.
I'm not somebody in the armed services.
Those are
really important, significant jobs.
We ain't got no real job!
-We are overpaid, underworked.
-[light laughter]
And we're
the luckiest sons of bitches in the world.
-I said, "Think about that." I says
"Even when we lose, our life don't suck."
Like, we still get paid,
we still get to go back to the big houses.
I says,
"We kinda in a win-win-win situation."
It's great to lift a city up
and make somebody's day.
But when you start taking it too serious,
you need to take a look at yourself.
Uh, I just wanna say thanks
for everything.
You've been friendly.
You've been generous.
You've been enjoyable to talk with.
I appreciate everything.
Thank you. You gonna work on your game?
I might see you in six months.
-I'll call you tomorrow.
We'll do this for money, my friend.
By the way,
I want my deposit back on the cart.
I got you.
-Bye-bye. Thank you.
-Thank you.
[theme music playing]
Oh, you know what I wanted
to point out to the youngsters
thinking about takin' the game of golf up?
And Chuck will back me up on this.
In the game of golf, you drive for show
-And you putt for dough?
-And you putt for dough.
What'd you do in the bunker?
You just avoid it?
Well, what rhymes with bunker?
Stop it, Chuck!
[music continues]
[music fades]
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