By Barry Janoff
October 30, 2014: The 2014-15 NBA season rolls out this week, which means that Charles Barkley, NBA on TNT commentator and Hall of Famer, is on call 24/7. It also means that recorders need to keep taping and pens need to keep writing.
Barkley rejoins the NBA on TNT crew this season, but his role in media goes beyond that.
CDW, a leading provider of technology solutions to business, government, education and healthcare, this week unveils the next iteration of its “People Who Get IT” integrated brand campaign. The multi-media effort again features Barkley as a member of fictional company Gordon & Taylor, with the theme, "Growing a business isn’t always easy, but smart technology solutions can help solve some of the toughest business challenges."
TV, supported by radio, Internet, social media and digital, comes with the umbrella tag, “Smart Growth 2.0." Lead agency is Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago.
CDW in the past has launched campaigns tied into March Madness, but this time is moving in to football turf. Spots will air during Monday Night Football broadcasts on ESPN, as well as during college game day and other sporting events on ESPN, ABC and Westwood One.
CDW's recent NFL endeavors include working with the Arizona Cardinals and University of Phoenix Stadium, which this February will host Super Bowl XLIX. CDW helped to implement "the most pervasive wireless access in the NFL," according to Mark Feller, vp-technology for the Cardinals. “across the 1.6 million-square-foot venue and is working on access in the outdoor concourse and parking lots — an additional 8.9 million square feet.
Three inaugural spots put Barkley in various tech-challenged scenarios, all of which have issues that can be resolved via CDW strategies and with partner solutions from APC, HP, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft and NetApp.
In "CDW + Microsoft," the CEO of Gordon & Taylor finds that the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 offers many more solutions than his homemade contraption of old computers and bells. In "Yoga Demonstration," Barkley and his CEO discover that unlike yoga, the Lenovo Yoga with an Intel Core i5 Pro processor "combines the productivity of an Ultrabook and the touch benefits of a tablet (and can be custom configured by CDW)." In "The Future," Barkley and his boss jump ahead in time, then return to find that problems are already being solved.
Barkley spoke with the media during a Turner NBA on TNT media event to rusher in their coverage of the NBA season, talking about the league, the NFL, Adam Stern, Roger Goodell, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and other facets of life on and off the court.
Q: What are your initial thoughts about the 2014-15 season?
Charles Barkley: This is the most excited I've been about the NBA in a long time. Over the past few years what have we had, maybe six teams that you look at that could win the championship. Now Cleveland is in the mix, I like what the Dallas Mavericks have done. There are still five or sis teams you look at and know they will be there in the end, but others are moving into the mix. There are so many great stories.
Q: What teams do you like to be there in the end?
CB: In the West, I like the Mavs. I'll write off the Spurs for the 12th straight year because they're old. (Laughs.) They will be there. Oklahoma City, Golden State are good teams. The Clippers. They are knocking on the door. Houston — they are tapping on the door. (Laughs.) In the East, Cleveland and Chicago are the two best teams, by far. But [Chicago's] season depends on the health of Derrick Rose.
Q: Who are the top players?
CB: LeBron and Durant are the two best. But Anthony Davis of the Pelicans is coming up fast. I got to watch him play in Spain with Team USA during the summer. He's a monster. A beast. He is strong and getting stronger. Mark my word, he's only 21 so he will be [among the best] for a long time. But people won't see them on [national] TV. Do we even have them on at all? (Editor's Note: A member of Turner Sports confirmed one appearance for the New Orleans Pelicans this season, Dec. 4 against the Golden State Warriors.) But that's a Warriors game, not a Pelicans game. (Laughs.)
"[With Kobe and Steve Nash] it's like boxing. They will keep throwing you out there even if you can't fight anymore if you can make them money."
Q: Do you see a championship for Cleveland this season with LeBron back?
CB: They are the best along with Chicago, but even with LeBron I'm not sure they are the best in the East. That would be Chicago, with a healthy Derrick Rose.
Q: What do you think about him leaving Miami to go back to Cleveland?
CB: [His decision was] one of the coolest things in my NBA career . . . What he said [about going back] was what we were saying from the beginning: It’s not just about winning championships. It’s about where you win it at.
Q: What about Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks using the triangle offense?
CB: You have to respect and admire what Phil Jackson has done. Eleven championships. He has done some great things. But I agree with what Jeff Van Gundy (former NBA coach, current ESPN commentator and analyst) said: It's not the system that wins games, it's the players. I think you have to give them time. Then we'll see.
Q: What's the status of your relationship with Michael Jordan?
CB: I love what he is doing with the Charlotte Hornets. He is building a team.We are not friendly. I love him. [When] they were setting the record for the worst team in NBA history (2011-12, 7-59) I said he needed to get rid of the flunkies around him, the 'Yes' men. He's done that and hired some real basketball people. So they are going in the right direction. But it's not in my personality or in Michael's personality to reach out to the other.
Q: What do you see happening with Kobe Bryant regarding the remainder of his NBA career?
CB: He will score 20 points a game this year. He's gonna shot the ball. If he's healthy he can play 25-30 minutes a game. But it won't be for a playoff team. The Lakers are not going to make the playoffs. I don't want to see what happened to Steve Nash happen to him. He doesn't want to accept the fact that he's getting old. We all get old. There's nothing you can do about that. But it's like boxing. They will keep throwing you out there even if you can't fight anymore if you can make them money. He has two years on his contract. Then [I hope] he walks away. At some point, everybody has to walk away.
Q: Is the NBA better without Donald Sterling?
CB: The league is better. Being a black man, I am against any form of racism, sexism, anything like that. I have always said racism is the greatest cancer of my lifetime. I don’t stand for that in any of my friends. I don’t stand for anti-Semitism, we can’t have that. I live in Arizona and I don’t like the way they treat Hispanics there. Anytime I get a chance to stand up for that I am going to stand up for that.
Q: How would you assess Adam Silver's first eight months as NBA commissioner?
CB: He has done amazing. Can you imagine handling the Donald Sterling situation and he handled it perfectly. The one thing about Adam Silver is there is nowhere to go but down. Laughs.). Obviously, that was a hot-button issue.
Q: What was your reaction to Silver's 'banned for life' decision?
CB: In my 30 years in the NBA I have never been more proud of a person. I’m a big David Stern fan and when Adam had his first press conference, we were all debating what Adam was going to do with Donald Sterling. We thought it would be a big fine, suspended for a short period of time. When he came out and said, Donald Sterling is banned for life, we looked at each other and . . . (Barkley's eyes go wide and his jaw drops). That was amazing. You know how I can tell that was cool? He caught all the reporters off guard. The reporters were ready to jump on him and when he said 'For life,' the reporters started going back in their seats. But I do think he needs to come out on domestic violence. We should not be idiots like the NFL. You can’t wait. You have to get ahead of it.
Q: What is your opinion of that situation in the NFL?
CB: They dropped the ball on this domestic violence thing. I am very disappointed in Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith (executive director for the NFL Players Assn.). What they should have done is very simple: The first time you hit a woman, you get suspended. You let the legal process play out but you get suspended. The second time you hit a woman you are banned for life. That’s it, period. I don’t understand why DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell are having such a tough time here.
Q: Was there something they should have done to never let it get to the point it has?
CB: They should have gotten in a room and in five minutes handled this domestic violence thing. It is a joke what these two guys have not been able to accomplish . . . Two months ago they should have said, “Okay, the first time you hit a woman, you will suspended and we can argue over the number of games — four games, six games, eight games, whatever. But the second time you put your hands on a woman, your ass is never playing in the NFL again. And in the NBA, too.
"They dropped the ball on domestic violence. I'm very disappointed in Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith. They should have gotten in a room and in five minutes handled it."
Q: Can Silver be proactive here?
CB: Adam Silver should also come out right now and say once you are convicted of hitting a woman, you will get say 10 games suspended, but the second time you do that, your ass is never playing in the NBA again. . . We should not be sitting here three months later saying, 'Wow, what is the NFL going to do?' I can’t believe these guys are screwing this thing up like this. And I really think Adam Silver should come out and say that we are not going to have this problem in the NBA.
Q: What is the future for athletes who are involved in serious off-the-field issues?
CB: It depends on what you do. I hope Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson get another chance. Rice screwed up. [The public reaction to] Peterson was unfair. When you screw up, it's out there . . . [When I had a problem] Nike stuck by me. [In the case of] Lance Armstrong, people were not mad at him for lying, they were mad at him for going after people [who accused him of using illegal substances to win]. He's a good friend of mine. But he was killing them all.
Q: Looking forward to the NBA All-Star Game in New York this February?
CB: I don't get to party much. But the All-Star Game in New York will be great. It will be cool. There is so much energy here.
Q&A: Charles Barkley Talks NBA, NCAA
Back to Home Page