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Charles Barkley is sorely mistaken. Alabama fans are not going to root for Auburn basketball. Auburn fans are not going to root for Alabama basketball.
The vast majority, at least. There are always exceptions and apparently Barkley is one of them.
The 60-year-old Basketball Hall of Famer will be one of few Tigers fans rooting for the Crimson Tide.
Barkley, who chose to play his college basketball at Auburn instead of other in-state schools he liked more, grew up in the town of Leeds, Alabama. As of 2020, the population of the city was just over 12,000.
He ultimately went on to play four years on The Plains and was drafted No. 5 in the 1984 NBA Draft. Barkley helped lead the Tigers to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in his senior year and had his No. 34 jersey retired by the school in 2001.
Now, 39 years later, Auburn and Alabama are both set to play in Birmingham to begin March Madness. They will compete during different sessions of different regions, but in the same gym.
Typically, a fan other either school would not root for the other. Rivalries run deep and the one in the Yellowhammer State is no exception. There is a lot of bad blood between the two in-state public universities and their fanbases. Especially this year, as the Crimson Tide is the top team in the country and the Tigers sat near the bubble down the stretch.
Charles Barkley is backing the entire state.
Despite the hatred of Auburn by Alabama fans and hatred of Alabama by Auburn fans, Barkley thinks that the two sides will be able to come together in Birmingham later this week. He thinks that the two fanbases will be rooting for the other program.
Listen this ain’t football so I think the Alabama-Auburn fans are going to be rooting for each other, that’s just my personal opinion. Alabama and Auburn, we hate them in football and they hate us. When you get to the arena as an Auburn fan, if Alabama is playing you’re going to root for them more than likely. Same thing, I think Alabama fans are going to root for Auburn.– Charles Barkley on a CBS Zoom call previewing the NCAA Tournament on Monday
Barkley is coming from a good place. He wants the two in-state schools to support the success of the entire state and the entire SEC. It’s an admirable hope, and it could happen on a very small scale.
… but that ain’t gonna happen. Barkley is off on this one.