Byline: Mike McGraw Daily Herald Sports Writer
Charles Barkley has threatened to run for governor of Alabama for years.
If all it takes to make his dream a reality is a subtle push, then Barkley may have gotten it from Illinois senator-elect Barack Obama.
According to a story in the Birmingham (Ala.) News, Obama and Barkley met for two hours in the weeks before Election Day. Barkley requested the rendezvous for a book he's writing on race relations.
Obama reportedly told Barkley, "You can be governor."
Will Barkley ever try? Last year, he asked his attorney to research the requirements to become governor of Alabama. One of the stipulations is to spend seven years as an Alabama resident.
Barkley grew up in Leeds, Ala., and attended college at Auburn. He currently lives in Phoenix, the most successful of his three NBA stops.
He could move back to Alabama in three years, after his daughter graduates from high school, and be eligible for a run in 2014 at age 51.
"Do I want to be the governor of Alabama?" Barkley said. "I don't know. But I'm going to make a difference in Alabama one way or another.
"I'm sick of people making fun of my state. The only reason I want to run for governor is to inspire people. I like the governor we have now (Bob Riley), but he can't go into those small towns and inspire those kids. I can."
One legendary Barkley line came when his mother told him Republicans are only for the rich. "I am rich," he responded.
Barkley said he voted for John Kerry for president last week but considers himself an independent.
"You shouldn't even say you're a Democrat or a Republican or an independent," he said. "You should vote for the guy you think is going to do the best job."
Is Barkley the best man to move into the governor's mansion? One way to look at it is he's no less qualified to be governor than Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jesse Ventura.
"I get frustrated when people say I can't be governor," Barkley said. "Why can't I be governor? …