SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Former Auburn and NBA basketball star Charles Barkley is never shy about expressing his true feelings.
My colleague at ESPN.com, Mark Schlabach, caught up with Barkley this week, and Barkley was still steaming that some had suggested he gave Cam Newton courtside tickets to the Lakers-Suns game on Wednesday.
That said, Barkley said Newton deserves a lot more than courtside tickets to an NBA game with all the money he's helped generate for Auburn.
“They can kiss my [rear],” said Barkley, who still lives in the Phoenix area and plans to attend Monday night's Tostitos BCS National Championship Game. “I didn’t get Cam Newton tickets. My phone was going crazy and I was surprised. I don’t know Cam Newton. But if Cam Newton had asked me for tickets, I would have gotten them for him.”
In fact, Barkley believes the NCAA should give more than complimentary tickets to student-athletes. Barkley thinks the NCAA should change its rules to compensate players.
“I personally think that as much money as they’re making off these kids, the system is broken and we need to fix it,” Barkley said.
Barkley said he attended the Tigers’ last two games, against Alabama in the Nov. 26 Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa and against South Carolina in the Dec. 4 SEC championship game in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.
“In one section alone, I counted 5,000 No. 2 jerseys,” Barkley said. “For people to think that’s fair, they’re crazy. I think it’s a joke. If Cam Newton got $180,000, he’s underpaid. I don’t know what happened and I’m not concerned with what happened. With the amount of money he made Auburn this year, if the $200,000 figure is accurate, he’s underpaid.”
Barkley said the NCAA needs to allow players to borrow money from agents, with the promise of paying it back after their eligibility is exhausted.
“You just can’t pay the stars because the offensive linemen open holes for the running backs,” Barkley said. “You can’t just pay the stars. They should let the players borrow money from agents. That’s not a competitive advantage.”
Barkley said he’s a big fan of Newton, but believes the Auburn defense might decide whether the Tigers win a national championship.
“My prediction is if the game is 30 points or less, Auburn is going to win,” Barkley said. “If the game is more than 30 points, Oregon is going to win. Cam Newton to me is like a Swiss army knife. Oregon is like a drawer of knives. They have more weapons than we do.”