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Barkley's book of unfettered opinions

Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.

Barkley appears on several CNN/U.S. programs, offering commentary and analysis to news and political stories.

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start quoteParents suck today.end quote
-- Charles Barkley

NEW YORK (CNN) -- After sixteen NBA seasons, he never won a title, still no one doubts that Sir Charles Barkley is one of basketball's elite.

He's outstanding on the court and outspoken off the court. Barkley is never shy about offering his opinion on just about everything -- from sports to politics to race relations in America. The title of his new book is "I May Be Wrong, but I Doubt It."

Barkley spoke to CNN anchor Bill Hemmer on Tuesday.

CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: People tell me my life is not complete because I never won a championship.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: How do you feel about that?

BARKLEY: No, I don't even think about it.

HEMMER: Not at all?

BARKLEY: I do not. Basketball was never going to be what I'm judged by. I've always known I was going to go into this arena, and basketball was just a tool for me to get to where I'm going.

HEMMER: What arena is that?

Making a difference

BARKLEY: Trying to make a difference. I've been blessed. If you win tons of championships and make a ton of money ... that's a blessing. But if you're in a position of power where you're on television, and you don't try to make a difference, it becomes irrelevant.

HEMMER: What difference are you trying to make right now?

Barkley discusses a plethora of hot topics in his book "I May Be Wrong but I Doubt It."

BARKLEY: My charity work has always been my focus. I think that I have been blessed. I've been sent to help poor people, and I try to do it through my foundation. What I've been doing for the last few years [is] giving a million dollars to my high school, a million dollars to my college [and] a million dollars to another school to help poor people go to college, because without education, you cannot be successful.

I think my hometown is really run down and beat up, so I'm buying 10 houses to remodel to give the kids a great environment to live in. I've always known that -- that basketball was my tool. It was never going to be the final...

HEMMER: You're talking about Alabama, right?

BARKLEY: Yes. Leeds.

HEMMER: How many people are in Leeds, Alabama?

BARKLEY: I don't know, because everybody keeps leaving. It's unfortunate.

HEMMER: Including you.

BARKLEY: You know what, it's unfortunate. It is really run down now, and I've got to make a difference there. That's my goal.

Political passion

HEMMER: I want to pick up a few things there. Politics. Are you really that interested in it, or can you put them to rest? Do you want to run for office?

BARKLEY: Not really. ... I'm undecided. The governor only makes $80,000 a year. I can't support my gambling habit on 80 grand a year, number one. But you know what, I think it would be fun to do because I can get on television every day for a couple of years and beat kids over the head to tell them [about] education, pride and self-esteem. Those are my big buzz words.

HEMMER: I think they'd listen to you, too, as soon as you walk in the room.

BARKLEY: Because their parents are doing such a poor job. They're thirsting for somebody who believes in them and wants to help them, because parents suck today. ... They blame everything on athletes and famous people.

I don't care what your job is, there's no greater responsibility than your kids. I think the biggest problem is parents are so concerned with being friends with their kids. You're not their friend. You're their parent. That's the number one thing. I got one daughter. She's 13. She's the greatest thing in my life, but I told her, I'm not her friend, I'm her father, and there's a big difference. I can't be her friend. Hopefully, one day when she's older I'll be her friend.

HEMMER: How's she turning out?

BARKLEY: She's doing well. She's a straight-A student, she's a good person, but I still have a long way to go. She's only 13.

Barkley's beef with black America

HEMMER: Let's move to some topics real quick. I'm paraphrasing some words you use. Correct me if I'm wrong. You said "We treat each other like crap," talking [about] blacks in America. "We will never be successful until we start treating each other better." What do you mean?

BARKLEY: [Black Americans] don't treat each other with common decency. It's easy to say white people treat us bad, because racism does exists, always has and always will. But until we as black people have a common courtesy [and] stop, number one, black-on-black crime.

Why do we treat each other badly? I think we have been beat down for so long, we develop a lack of self-esteem and a lack of pride and until we address our own problem, which is, number one, black-on-black crime, teenage pregnancies and single-parent homes. Until we address those problems -- it's easy just to say white America has suppressed us. I'm not stupid enough to believe that has not happened, but we just don't have the common respect and decency for each other. We treat each other like crap.

HEMMER: Another thing you've indicated, within the black community, there is a lot of jealousy and resentment toward successful black men. Do you feel that?

BARKLEY: Oh yes. That's one of the things in the book that was very personal to me in that aspect, because I have a lot of famous friends who are black, who have a ton of money, and there's always this kind of -- you never fit in a certain place. You are never going to fit totally into white America, but you get such a resentment from some black people. It's frustrating, it's very frustrating.

Lott's comments

HEMMER: Trent Lott, his comments this week, interview last night, five time apology. Your position, what?

BARKLEY: First of all, he's apologized. And I'm not concerned about the statement. I'm concerned about his voting record. ... He's speaking for the South.

HEMMER: How is the voting record there?

BARKLEY: First of all, the South is the South. The South has always been racist. When I go to Alabama or anywhere in the South, I feel like I'm in 1972, and it's unfortunate. One of the things I talk about in the book is that blacks and whites are not natural enemies. Somebody has to corrupt your mind and your soul to make you racist. I use the analogy in the book, if you put a little black kid and a white kid together, they get along great. Somebody ignorant comes along and puts something in your mind to make you feel resentment to other races. It is 100 percent wrong; no ifs, ands or buts.

HEMMER: Quickly here, Augusta National, female members in or out?

BARKLEY: They don't need to be there. Golf is what it is. Always been exclusionary. They had a right to as a private club to have who they want. It is wrong, but as a private club, they have that right.

HEMMER: Pete Rose, in or out Hall of Fame?

BARKLEY: That's a tough one for me, because Pete's a friend of mine, but gambling is a cardinal sin. I wish we could move on, because I like Pete a lot, and it's not fair for me to make that decision. It should be up to the guys who play baseball for a living. It's their sport. They have to protect it. I feel like I'm a protector of basketball, but that's the baseball players' decision.

HEMMER: We've got to run. When was the last time you were called the "round mound of rebound."

BARKLEY: I'm just a fat mound now. I'd love to get back to the round mound -- I'm the fat mound now.

HEMMER: Great to see you.

BARKLEY: Thank you.

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