Charles Barkley has the coolest job in the world. Every Thursday, the Naismith Hall of Famer appears on telvision via Turner Sports’ Inside the NBA alongside Ernie Johnson, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal.

David Leonard.

“Charles has created a persona where he has positioned himself as outside the mainstream, where he is seen as a rebel who says what he wants, who challenges the status quo, yet when you look beyond the surface, he really is in line with mainstream values,” Dr. David J. Leonard, a professor in the Department of Languages, Cultures, and Race Studies at Washington State University, Pullman told me.

“He often laments ‘today’s players,’ he waxes nostalgically about his era and he condemns the destructiveness ‘political correctness.’ In part because he has long been positioned as anti-Michael Jordan and in part because of his ‘I am not a role model’ commercials, but he has successfully constructed himself as oppositional and a man who marches to his own drum with respect to race, social issue and cultural debates.”

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