Barkley stops in to see ECU’s McCarthy

Published 6:38 am Sunday, October 26, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — Basketball moral has been low around Greenville for the past few seasons but on Saturday East Carolina looked for that sentiment to rebound as it got an assist from one of the NBA’s premier rebounder in Charles Barkley.
Just like when he used to lift off for one of his many thunderous dunks, Sir Charles raised spirits in Greenville, and for at least one day, it was all smiles in Minges Coliseum.
The NBA Hall of Famer played under Pirates’ head coach Mack McCarthy at Auburn from 1981-84, when McCarthy was an assistant coach with the Tigers. Since then, the two have forged a long standing friendship.
When Barkley heard how McCarthy was trying to raise the status quo of Pirates’ basketball, he offered his services.
Barkley came to East Carolina to meet and greet the fans, as well as the players for most of the afternoon.
Barkley, who has been friends with McCarthy for over 20 years, said one of the biggest reasons he respects McCarthy so much is because he never let up on him during his years at Auburn.
From noon to 3 p.m., the Pirates held an open practice to the media and Pirate Club members, while Barkley signed autographs and took question from the crowd.
The King of Candor, Barkley didn’t fail to deliver a few good one-liners.
When asked who is a better golfer him or Michael Jordan, Barley replied, “He’s a better golfer, but I’m a better GM.”
Barkley also talked about how he used to drive his coaching staff at Auburn nuts when he would skip an occasionally class or two.
The joke got a big laugh from the crowd at Minges, but Barkley later stressed the importance of education and listening to your coaches.
Barkley was aware that talking about skipping school and bucking his coaches, then speaking about the necessity of an education and following directions may come off as hypercritical, but said that he is just trying to pass along lessons that he has learned in life.
“There are two things I hate about life. Number one is that you don’t know when your are going to die, and it’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just want to tell everybody goodbye. But also, it’s all the stuff you don’t learn ’till you get older. No matter what you tell your kids, they think you just don’t know,” Barkley said also referring to his 19-year old daughter. “The thing I try to tell them is that it takes a lot of effort. If you want to get good grades you can’t just screw around and say ‘I’m going to show up on the day of the test and ace it.’ It doesn’t work that way.”
Barkley spoke with the members of the Pirates basketball team before their practice and imparted a similar message regarding the importance of dedicating yourself to stay in shape.
Barkley also talked about the importance of team unity, and standing up for your teammates.
Hinnant joked that he hoped ECU big men Darrius Morrow and Wynn had received the message.
The Pirates will get a chance to display their team unity when they take on Coker College in the season opener.