I pride myself on being pretty observant, and a great way to learn about somebody is either by their shoes or their taste in music. As a media figure, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley spends most of his time sitting behind a desk, so I have no idea what kind of sneakers or shoes he’s out here rocking. But on the latest episode of The Steam Room podcast, he did reveal who his favorite rap group of all-time was and also shared a hilarious story about Michael Jackson.
According to HipHopDX, Barkley and co-host Ernie Johnson were discussing a popular meme of Bill Clinton holding four of his favorite albums when a caller asked the 11-time NBA All-Star what his favorite albums were. Unfortunately, while Chuck wasn’t able to name any—though Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear would’ve been an acceptable answer—he did disclose who his favorite rap group was, though much to my dismay, it wasn’t Smilez and Southstar.
“Number one, I don’t know the exact [album]. Any album by Public Enemy,” Barkley answered without hesitating. “Public Enemy is my favorite rap group of all time.”
If you might recall, group members Chuck D and Flavor Flav are currently embroiled in one of the most bizarre beefs in hip-hop history. After refusing to participate in a Bernie Sanders rally in March—back when outside gatherings were still perfectly normal—Flav was apparently kicked out of the group, only for Chuck D to claim that Flav’s dismissal was merely an April Fool’s Joke to help promote a new project.
Slight problem: Flav wasn’t in on the joke.
“I am not a part of your hoax @mrchuckd,” Flav tweeted in response. “There are more serious things in the world right now than April Fool’s jokes and dropping records. The world needs better than this. You say we are leaders, so act like one.”
As much as Barkley loves Public Enemy, it’s eclipsed by his love for all things Michael Jackson. So while he had the audience’s attention, the Auburn legend also shared a hilarious story about the King of Pop.
“Anything Michael Jackson, I love Michael Jackson, even though he hung up on me, but I still love Michael Jackson,” said Barkley, before being coaxed by Ernie Johnson to share the rest of the story.
“One day I was on a TV show. Remember [Michael] held a baby over the balcony? So I was on a show and the [attorney] Gloria Allred was going crazy, and I went crazy on her, telling her to shut up and, hey listen, Michael Jackson—he just got caught up in the moment—he’s not gonna hurt no baby and blah blah blah,” remembered Barkley. “I said, y’all make a big deal out of every time celebrities do anything and that’s just unnecessary and uncalled for,” he added.
Michael caught wind of the outspoken analyst’s off-the-court defense and wanted to thank him personally.
“So my agent called me, he said ‘hey man, Michael Jackson saw you on TV defending him. He wanted to call and say thank you. Can I give him your number?’ I said, ‘hell yeah. He’s Michael Jackson, give me the time that he’s gonna call,” said Barkley. “So he calls, he says, ‘Charles?’ I said ‘yes.’ He said, ‘this is Michael Jackson.’ I said, ‘hey man I’m your biggest fan.’ He says, ‘I just called to tell you, I heard what you said, that old, mean lady Gloria Allred was saying [bad things] about me on television. I wanted to call and say thank you for defending me,’” he added.
Barkley continued: “Then I say, ‘man I just wanna tell you, I’m your biggest fan in the world. It would be an honor and a pleasure to meet you in person,’ and I keep going. And then I say ‘hello, hello, hello.’ Then I realized that after he said what he wanted to say he hung up. And I was just rambling on about what a big fan I was.”
Damn, it’s like that, Michael?
You can listen to the episode in its entirety below.