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Charles Barkley on How to Fix NBA; Should Olympic Athletes Be Allowed to Protest Russian Anti-Gay Laws?; Double Standard in Baseball Regarding Drug Use?; Hershel Walker Weighs in on Heisman Possibilities

Aired December 13, 2013 - 22:30   ET



ANNOUNCER: Tonight on UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS, unfiltered. Charles Barkley sounds off on what's wrong with the NBA and how he's going to fix it.

RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST: You want to run a team?

CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: I want to run a team. I'm going to run a team. I know I'm going to be successful.

ANNOUNCER: Unrestrained.

JERRY SPRINGER, TALK SHOW HOST: Jerry Springer here. On today's panel, Rachel and I will talk Heisman Trophy controversies. Is there a double standard in play? We'll cover all the bases.

ANNOUNCER: Uninhibited.


ANNOUNCER: On the eve of the Heisman Trophy announcement, former winner Herschel Walker lets loose with some surprises.

NICHOLS: I was told that you actually don't remember getting your Heisman Trophy in the ceremony. That's true?

HERSCHEL WALKER, FORMER HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER: I don't. I don't remember that night of getting the Heisman Trophy. I really don't.



You know, there is absolutely no one quite like Charles Barkley. Always opinionated, often hilarious, TNT's lead basketball analyst can get away with saying what no one else can. Oh, and he's also a NBA Hall of Famer.

You know, I caught up with Chuck, an Auburn University alum, just after his Tigers earned their ticket to college football's national championship game. Not surprisingly, he had something to say about that. And well, everything else.


NICHOLS: You gave the pre-game speech for that crazy Iron Bowl where Auburn upset Alabama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Davis is going to run it all the way back. Auburn is going to win the football game!

NICHOLS: What did you say to them? That they pulled off the greatest college football victory of the year?

BARKLEY: You know, this is probably the greatest season in Auburn history, you know, to go from not winning the game in the SEC to being the No. 2 team in the country. That's pretty remarkable.

NICHOLS: Are you going to get a ring if they get the national title?

BARKLEY: No. No, you don't do that. You don't get that. You have to win your own ring or you don't get one. You don't get that luxury.

NICHOLS: I'm trying to get you a ring in some way, Chuck.

BARKLEY: No, no, no, no, no, I'm cool with that.


BARKLEY: It's interesting. People always ask me about the championship ring.


BARKLEY: And I never think like they think. You know, basketball is what I do; it's not who I am.

NICHOLS: But you judge people by whether they won a ring. You judged LeBron when he didn't have a ring yet.

BARKLEY: No, I didn't. No, I didn't. Never. I said LeBron should have stayed in Cleveland. Just because he got them rings now he ain't no better.

Think about the notion that just because I didn't win a sporting event my life is not successful. That's got to be the stupidest thing I ever heard.

NICHOLS: At end of the year he has the option to opt out in Miami. Do you want him back in Cleveland?

BARKLEY: I think it would be great for him to go back to Cleveland. No. 1, I don't think they're great fans in Miami. I thought they were great fans in Cleveland.

NICHOLS: People in Miami already don't like you. You're going to dig a deeper hole with them.

BARKLEY: I'm not digging it deeper. Listen, those are the same fans who were leaving when they thought they had lost to the Spurs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you think about the game?


BARKLEY: They just don't act like they're super fans.

The Lakers aren't going to be any good. We don't have to talk about it. We don't have to talk about the Lakers at all.

NICHOLS: All right. What about the NBA in general? What do you think about the level of basketball being played right now?

BARKLEY: I'm embarrassed. Rachel, I'm a fan. I get -- I have to watch these games. And I know people at home are going, "Oh, these old guys are hating on the NBA." It's just bad basketball. I mean, it's bad basketball. Eastern Conference is ridiculous. And in major markets.

NICHOLS: You have Miami. You have Indiana.

BARKLEY: That's it, stop. There's no third. There's no third. There's no third.

Like everybody knows it's bad basketball. You know what's interesting, Michael Wilson is a good friend of mine. He's been angry at me, because I've been talking bad about the Knicks. And these guys are so sensitive. But I'm going to do my job. I've lost friends over things I've said, but I'm going to do my job. My job is to the fans.

NICHOLS: Who have you lost? What friends have you lost?

BARKLEY: I'd rather not get into that. But I just...

NICHOLS: Have I finally asked Charles Barkley a question he won't answer?

BARKLEY: Well, because -- no. That's true. That's true. I'm going to do my job. I'm going to be very honest. I'm going to be very fair.

OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: Do you love him, though? You love him?

BARKLEY: I love him.

NICHOLS: You are tied to Michael Jordan forever.


NICHOLS: Very, very close friend. What is it like being one of Michael Jordan's best friends?

BARKLEY: You know, Michael's somebody I really like as a person. And for some reason, we just hit it off.

It's frustrating for me right now, because we're not where we used to be. You know,, I think he took some things I said about the Bobcats personally. And it's put a wedge between our friendship. And that's been disheartening for me to -- very disheartening. Because one minute we're close, and now it's strained.

NICHOLS: What do you think it is about Michael? How come he can't figure this out? It's not just that he's stumbled. I mean, he really stumbled in Washington. He's really had trouble with the Bobcats.

BARKLEY: Well, might as well burn down the whole house. You done started the fire now. Burn down the kitchen and the bedroom.

Well, Michael has not surrounded himself with enough good people who will disagree with him. That's the biggest problem he's had. You know, to be successful, you've got to surround yourself with people who you respect, saying no, that's not a good pick. That's not a good draft pick. That's not a good trade. That's what you have to do.

NICHOLS: What about you? Do you ever want to run a team?

BARKLEY: I'm going to run a team. You know, that's my next goal. I want to run a team. I'm going to run a team. I know I'm going to be successful.

NICHOLS: Let's scare the people at TNT. When are you going to go do this?

BARKLEY: Well, I've got two years left on my deal. And I've told them that in two years I'm going to retire. I love my job. Ernie, Kenny, Shaq, and everybody we work with, they're a blast. But I'm not sure how long you should do the same thing.

NICHOLS: Anyone you've been talking to?

BARKLEY: I have talked to teams in the last couple of years. And they -- but, you know, they lost me when I heard the term "pay cut." O K, I'll see you later.


NICHOLS: You know Charles is not taking a pay cut. All right. Now a little later on the show we're going to talk to former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker and get his views on this year's candidates. But right after the break, Barkley reveals his biggest struggles.


BARKLEY: Well, I think the two biggest issues I've ever had is probably gambling, and probably drinking.



NICHOLS: I'm Rachel Nichols, and welcome back to UNGUARDED. We've been talking to Charles Barkley about how he is never afraid to tell it like it is and how important he thinks it is to have friends who are honest right back to him.


NICHOLS: You said that your friends are always honest with you, and you demand that they tell you when you're doing something dumb.


NICHOLS: What's the time that somebody pulled you aside and said, "You're doing something dumb" that had a real impact on you?

BARLEY: Well, I think the two biggest issues I've ever had is probably gambling and probably drinking. Those are probably the two biggest things my friends watch me for. Because I'm always going to drink, because I like it. I'm always going to gamble, because I like it.

NICHOLS: Well, you once said that you estimated you've lost $10 million gambling over the course of your life.


NICHOLS: Are you still doing it to that level?

BARKLEY: No. I've probably won $1 million five or six times in a night.

NICHOLS: That's got to be a big rush.

BARKLEY: It is. But I've lost a million probably 20 times. And I took a couple years off from gambling, because I realized like the high of those five or six times I've won a million doesn't make up for the 25, 20 to 25 times I've lost a million. Because you're so low.

NICHOLS: You know the principle of gambling is that the house wins. You know that, right?

BARKLEY: I know that. You know what's interesting? I learned that from a guy at the casino. We're doing this interview with Steve Wendt. And he would say, "What kind of gamblers do you like?"

He says, "Oh, easy, the jocks." And he said...

NICHOLS: This is a guy who runs a bunch of big casino and hotels in Vegas.

BARKLEY: Yes. My head perked up. He says, "Because they always look at it competitively. They try to win all the time."

And I said, "OK." And from that point on it clicked on. I said you know what? He's right. Just go and have fun and try to win a little bit. Don't try to beat the casino. And that's when it clicked in for me.

NICHOLS: I see you out; you talk to everybody.

BARKLEY: Nice to meet y'all. Have a great day. What up? How you doing?

NICHOLS: People love talking to you, too, because you say what is on your mind. You say the things that people wish that they could say.

BARKLEY: We just want y'all to play better and stop whining. Stop sitting in every press conference like somebody killed a family pet. It's annoying.

You know, I love President Obama. But Abe Lincoln is my new favorite president.


BARKLEY: Because if it wasn't for him we'd be calling Ernie boss.

You know, people take -- let me tell you something.

NICHOLS: People were upset because they thought you were making light of slavery.

BARKLEY: People have to get a life. I was a great basketball player. That's it. That's all I was. I'm not a teacher or a fireman. I'm not out there saving lives.

NICHOLS: People shouldn't take it that serious?

BARKLEY: Not at all. Not in the least bit.

NICHOLS: You're friendly with President Obama.


NICHOLS: You're going to the White House this weekend.

BARKLEY; You know, this will be my second time there. Let me tell you something. You've got to be on your best behavior at the White House. That's one thing you don't mess around at.

NICHOLS: Now we know how to make that happen. Just send you to the White House.

BARKLEY: Send me to the White House.


NICHOLS: Charles on good behavior. I'm going to believe that when I see it.

All right. Now let's switch gears and turn to college football and the Heisman Trophy, which will be awarded tomorrow night. The favorite, of course, Florida State's Jameis Winston, whose image -- rightly or wrongly -- has been tarnished by a rape allegation.

Now, we want to stress the district attorney in this case found there was not enough evidence to charge Winston. But the story does remain in the news.

This morning the attorney of Winston's accuser gave a press conference, alleging gross police misconduct in this case.


PATRICIA CARROLL, LAWYER FOR JAMEIS WINSTON'S ACCUSER: There is no reason, ladies and gentlemen, why the state would redact the injuries sustained by the victim, the name of the person who did the report, and the drugs that were issued to her for pain.


NICHOLS: So to talk about this development and much more, I want to bring in my panelists, starting with the one and only Jerry Springer, a lawyer, the former mayor of Cincinnati, and of course, you know, the host of "The Jerry Springer show"".

I also want to welcome Olympic track and field gold medalist, Sanya Richards-Ross. We all expect Winston to down and get that trophy. And people will be cheering for him. He will be holding up that piece of hardware. How are fans supposed to feel about this?

SPRINGER: People will believe what they believe. But it still should have nothing to do with whether or not he wins the Heisman at that point.

If he did what that woman is alleging then, of course, he should be punished. But then let him be punished appropriately. And I don't even think you have to bring the Heisman into it. The Heisman is trivial compared to a guy who would actually rape a woman.

SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS, OLYMPIC MEDALIST: We are role models whether we like it or not. And so we have to be very careful with our choices. I know it's hard, but as an elite athlete you have to make sacrifices. When I was in college at U.T. I didn't go to many parties. You know, it was just part of the reason

NICHOLS: Was that part of the reason why?

RICHARDS-ROSS: I just never wanted to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Didn't want for something to happen and oh, Sanya Richards was there and this happened.

SPRINGER: But you're so fast you could run away before they ever got there.

RICHARDS-ROSS: And I would have run away before they got there. But my mom and dad always kind of instilled that in me, that if you want to get to a certain place, you have to be careful along the way not to have these kind of things tarnish that path.

NICHOLS: Is this a case where with athletes in our hypermedia age these trials are going to become so scrutinized that a district attorney isn't even going to go to trial, he isn't going to even charge an athlete unless he's 100 percent?

SPRINGER: I think in most cases, the prosecutors are thinking, either we have a case or we don't. And if they have a case, they're not going to shy away from it. It could be a career builder for them.

And just one quick thing on this whole business about athletes being role models. Your parents should be your role models. This is all screwed up. You've got to teach your kids, you know what, these are your values. And because you love someone on the ball field doesn't mean that everything about their life is what you should be.

RICHARDS-ROSS: I'm not saying we should be their only role model. But I do think we shouldn't shy away from that, and we should want to set great examples.

NICHOLS: You have kids who come up and ask for your autograph.

RICHARDS-ROSS: Yes, tons of kids. Autographs, write us.

SPRINGER: I have kids come up all the time. And I tell them, don't you ever be on my show.


All good points. Thank you guys.

And we will be right back. We have a lot more ahead as we continue our discussion. Plus we're going to talk to one of the best ever to win the Heisman, Herschel Walker, and get his thoughts on Jameis Winston.


WALKER: The thing is there's a cloud. And for me that means a great deal.



NICHOLS: All right. Welcome back to UNGUARDED. We're going to pick up right where we left off with my panel, talk show host Jerry Springer, Olympic track gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross.

There was big Olympic news this week when the IOC Drafted a letter to athletes reminding them of Rule 50. Now, this basically says they cans disciplined, even expelled from the games for making any kind of political statement. Particularly relevant as so many athletes are upset over the anti-gay laws that have been passed in Russia recently. And that of course, is where the winter games are going to be held this February. I want to show you Martina Navratilova at the United Nations addressing the IOC's instructions.


MARTINA NAVRATILOVA, LEGENDARY TENNIS PLAYER: My disappointment was with the IOC, where they in fact said sports and politics don't mix.


NICHOLS: Sanya, you competed in three Olympic games under this rule. What do you think of this controversy right now?

RICHARDS-ROSS: As an athlete you've earned that platform. And if you feel strongly about something, an issue whether it's anti-gay or your religion or whatever it is, as long as it's not disruptive and it's nonviolent I think you should have the right to speak up.

SPRINGER: How can you say that politics has nothing to do with the Olympics when the very first thing you do on opening night is everyone marches in with their flag? You know what I love would love to see? All the American athletes go over there, and then all of them protest. All of them.

NICHOLS: Not going to expel all of us? That theory?

SPRINGER: Try having the Olympics without America as you did in 1980, and nobody watched. And, you know, the IOC went crazy.


NICHOLS: Say someone came to you, one of your teammates, and say, "It's important we make this stand. We've all got to do it together. They can't expel all of us." And you have to decide am I going to risk losing my shot at the Olympics.

RICHARDS-ROSS: The truth is, people really have a hard time balancing like. Like do I want to be sent home, do I want to miss out on what could be the greatest opportunity of my life in sport by risking something that I believe in? And unfortunately, not very many people will do that.

NICHOLS: All right. Let's move on. Earlier this week, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre were all unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame. Guys, we are talking about three managers who all had high-profile steroid users on their teams. And those guys, guys like Mark McGwire, guys like Roger Clemens, they had great numbers, but they're being kept out of the Hall of Fame because people say those numbers were inflated by PEDs.

The managers wouldn't be going into the Hall of Fame if they hadn't won World Series titles, but those World Series titles were influenced by PEDs. Is there is a double standard going on here?

SPRINGER: The player you can keep out of the Hall of Fame, because the player was 100 percent in charge of whether he took the PEDs. That's clearly all on the player. The player would not have been the player had it not been for those drugs. But the manager, there are a lot of reasons why their team won beyond just the one player.

RICHARDS-ROSS: I'm going to have to disagree with you there, Jerry. As an athlete, I do think that these things, they don't happen in isolation.

I think a lot of times either the managers or the coaches are very privy to what's happening. Whether they turned a blind eye to it or whether they -- I don't want to say facilitate -- but potentially facilitate these things.

And I think there is a double standard. I think if there were harsher rules, sanctions and punishments placed on these coaches and managers there'd be less of these things perpetuated in the sport.

NICHOLS: Is it possible that a coach of a track star would know if they were taking performance-enhancing drugs?

RICHARDS-ROSS: It's impossible. It's impossible.

SPRINGER: Well, that's one person.

RICHARDS-ROSS: No. Well, here's what I'm saying. In our sport, in track and field, we have coaches that have repeat athletes that are being tested positive. And I have a problem with them still being able to coach in our sport or manage. I think once you've done that you shouldn't be allowed to be in the sport.

NICHOLS: You're a big baseball fan, right?


NICHOLS: OK. Do you think Tony La Russa didn't know that Mark McGwire was doing something that was cheating?

SPRINGER: OK. Then I don't know why the St. Louis Cardinals, then, should be able to get any of their world championships.

NICHOLS: You are not answering my question.

SPRINGER: Well, no, because I don't. I think that's a step removed. In other words, the athlete absolutely. But when you start saying people who knew, then I think you're probably reaching a line where you say, if you're keeping the manager out why not keep the teammates out?

How can you give the world championship trophy to a team when the players knew that one of their compatriots that helped them win the World Series was using those drugs? In other words, once you go beyond the person that's actually committing the crime and punishing them, then I think that's when you start the slippery slope.

RICHARDS-ROSS: Now that's kind of hard. Because you're doing your thing and trying to do everything you can do right. Maybe you do speak up but nothing happens.

SPRINGER: Well, let's talk about Joe Torre. Four of the world championships A-rod wasn't even on the team.

NICHOLS: Maybe we're not talking about Joe Torre. We are talking about Tony La Russa.

SPRINGER: As long as we're not talking about the Yankees, I don't care.

NICHOLS: That's not right. Come on. Well, that is going to have to be it for tonight. Thank you guys, both, so much for coming.

RICHARDS-ROSS: Really? It's over?

NICHOLS: I know. But you will come back, right? We're glad to have you back.

SPRINGER: I have so much more to say.

NICHOLS: Don't we know it, Jerry. Don't we know it.

All right. You guys do not go anywhere. You need to stay with us, because on the eve of the Heisman Trophy presentation, we are going to have a very surprising conversation with former winner Herschel Walker.


NICHOLS: Welcome back. I'm Rachel Nichols.

Tomorrow college football's most prestigious trophy, the Heisman, is going to be awarded right here in New York City. Now back in 1982, that hardware went to Herschel Walker, who beat out, you know, John Elway, Dan Moreno, no big deal. I spoke to Herschel earlier, asking him who he thinks should win this year.


WALKER: This is a tough year. It's very tough. You know, Winston at Florida State, you know, he has had a great, great year.

But people forget about A.J. McCarron. Just because he lost to Auburn, the kid has still had a great year. The kid has done a lot of great things.

And you know, it is going to be a very, very tough race. I think everybody's already giving it to Jameis. But I think that's very hard. Because you know, my heart still goes out to the young lady. And I know, you know, you're not guilty and all that stuff. But, you know, the thing is there's a cloud. And for me, that means a great deal. If there's a cloud that means a great deal to me. Because, you know, the Heisman is more than just winning a trophy for football.

NICHOLS: We have so many former players now who are talking about the injuries they received in football and the difficulties they've had. Concussions, joining the concussion lawsuit. What do you make of that? Because you had a very different track post football.

WALKER: Well, you know what's so strange about it is I've been very fortunate. You know, I wrote a book called "My Life with a Social Identity Disorder," which so many people made a joke about it. So many people laughed at it. And you know, I had a problem. And that's one thing that I did. I went to get that problem taken care of.

And because of that, I've been very fortunate now to work with our wounded warriors in our military. And we treat about 4 to 600 military servicemen and women all over the world. And I understand what's going on.

But I will say this. I think we're throwing concussion as the blame for everything. But that's not so. And a lot of NFL retired players get upset with me, a lot of players getting upset with me. But I'm saying this is something I know. I know this for a fact, that concussion is not to blame for everything.

NICHOLS: I was told that, because of your disorder, you actually don't remember getting your Heisman Trophy and the ceremony. Is that true?

WALKER: I don't. I don't remember that night getting the Heisman Trophy. And I said it the other day at a base. I was at a base. And I said people laugh and they think it's really weird. I don't remember that certain time. And I really don't.

NICHOLS: Have you watched video of it, at least? Do you get that moment at least from seeing it?

WALKER: Well, you're going to be shocked. I've never watched a video of it. I think there's so much more that I got to do and there's so much that I'm doing that I don't want to look back right now and think that I've done something great.


NICHOLS: Well, Herschel, whenever you're ready to show the video to your grandkids, we are going to have it ready and waiting for you.

And that is all for us tonight. You can follow me on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or visit us on the Web at And you can join us again next week on UNGUARDED, where the end of the game is just the start of the story. Good night.