Caleb McLaughlin has never been as nervous as he’ll be this week when he suits up for the Cheez-It Pringles Celebrity Crunch Classic to play for infamous NBA legend Charles Barkley.
The “Stranger Things” star is confident in his ability on the court, but, well, Barkley’s standard of good tends to be a bit different.
“He speaks his mind,” McLaughlin said with a laugh. “If I keep missing shots he may bench me or something. I’ve gotta come correct.”
We caught up with McLaughlin to chop-it-up about everything from his hoops skills to why he would’ve been a 1990s R&B legend to Season 3 of “Stranger Things.”
Jason Jordan: We’re a sports entity first, so I always like to gauge the sports backgrounds and experiences of all my guests on the Celeb Chop-Up; what sport are you best at?
Caleb McLaughlin: Basketball, I’ve been playing since I was able to walk. I grew up watching my brother play in the backyard and I just love the sport.
JJ: Gauge me on how good you are.
CM: (Laughs) Well, for where I’m at in my life I think I’m pretty good. I mean I can’t join a high school team or anything because of my job, but I feel like I’m pretty good. I played rec ball and I was good back then.
JJ: Makes sense; with a logical progression skill-wise do you think you could’ve gone on to play at the highest level?
CM: I’ve always dreamed of making it to the NBA and I was, honestly, the best player on my team when I was little. I lived in upstate New York and I was kinda running things there at my age level. I thought I was gonna make it to the NBA until I went into the city and played. Yeah, that’s when I realized I wasn’t as good as I thought.
JJ: If the “Stranger Things” cast had a one-on-one tournament, who emerges victorious?
CM: (Laughs) I could beat all of them at the same time by myself! That would be pretty easy.
JJ: Well you’ll be playing in the Cheez-It Pringles Celebrity Crunch Classic down at the Final Four so this may be your moment.
CM: I know! I’m gonna have to come correct!
JJ: What are you doing to prepare for it?
CM: I’m playing a lot by myself so I’m just seeing how that goes. That’s my problem though; I’ll be killing it by myself then I’ll get out there against bigger guys and struggle sometimes.
JJ: Charles Barkley is going to be your coach, are you worried about playing under him?
CM: Yes! I’m worried he’s gonna bench me!
JJ: Give me a prediction on your production in this game.
CM: Well, I definitely have MVP skills, but it depends on if my game wants to show out or sellout!
JJ: OK, perfect place to take it random; what’s the first thing that pops into your head when approaching a yellow traffic light?
CM: (Laughs) Slow down!
JJ: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
CM: Being ignored or being disrespected. I can’t stand that.
JJ: What competition-based reality show would you absolutely win?
CM: Ooh, if I had the training I’d have to say “American Ninja Warrior.”
JJ: What fast food restaurant has the best fries?
CM: It would be between Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s.
JJ: The best pizza you’ve ever had in your life what from where?
CM: Koronet’s. It’s great!
JJ: When you play Paper, Rock, Scissors, what object do you find brings you the most wins?
CM: The rock.
JJ: Would you rather have the power to be invisible or the power to read minds?
CM: Read minds because anyone can say words, but you’d be able to know how they actually feel.
JJ: How would you use a rewind button in life?
CM: I would go back and prevent things like when my dog got hit by a car or something like that.
JJ: Let’s hop into the DeLorean Time Machine (Back to the Future), which era would you like to drop in on for a week?
CM: The 1990s! I would be a really dope R&B artist. I love Mint Condition, Jodeci, Bobby Brown, BBD
JJ: What’s the most overused slang word or phrase out right now?
CM: The word “shook” annoys me.
JJ: OK. If you could go back and get the truth about one past mystery which would you choose?
CM: Just how life started. That’s the answer to all our issues. I’m a religious guy, but there’s more to it than what we know.
JJ: What random fact can you just tell me right now?
CM: That Mansa Musa was the richest man that ever lived. He was worth like 900 billion or something.
JJ: OK, well “Stranger Things” Season 3 coming on July 4, talk about what we can expect from the new season and everything else fans can look forward to from you.
CM: Yes, I’m super excited for the season! Fans are really gonna love this one. I’m also coming out with some music and I’m doing a deal with Finish Line! I’ve got another commercial with Migos coming out too. I’m just trying to keep everything going.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY