Basketball icon Charles Barkley weighed into the debate over sports players kneeling for the Black Lives Matter movement and he’s earning a lot of angry responses online over it.
Barkley made the comments on “The Inside Guys” on TNT on Thursday after Shaquille O’Neal applauded players and coaches for kneeling before the first NBA game of the season.
“When you have you platform, I think it is very important that you speak up, it’s very important that you speak your mind but when you talk about change, you also have to talk about protocol,” said O’Neal.
“So we use our voice to bring awareness,” he continued. “Now we have to go vote, we have to vote our mayors in, our mayors are to appoint new chiefs of police. We have to vote senators and politicians. It doesn’t just stop with sending our a tweet or yelling all the time.”
“The thing is, listen, that’s gonna mean different things to different people,” responded Barkley.
“I’m glad these guys are all unified, but if people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person,” he added.
“I want to make that perfectly clear, I’m glad they had unity,” Barkley concluded, “but if we have a guy who doesn’t want to kneel because the anthem means something to him, he should not be vilified.”
He went on to criticize players for only speaking out on social justice and said that they should go into black communities and help create businesses and be active in creating change.
Social media responds
Barkley’s comments were quickly picked up on social media and circulated by those supporting him and those criticizing him.
“Charles Barkley, we are worried about the people who ARE kneeling being vilified,” responded one sports account on Twitter.
“Charles Barkley does not speak for black people – he speaks for his white golf buddies who he doesn’t want to disappoint. He’s more worried about white men view him than how black women do. He spent years tap dancing on TV and now he’s a black leader – says who?” said another Twitter user.
“If Charles Barkley were in the wrong time at the wrong place, he would be a victim of police brutality and he’s out here supporting it,” said another commenter.
“Charles Barkley need to shut the f*** up… honestly,” said another simply.
Others, like former NBA player and ESPN host Jay Williams agreed with Barkley’s response.
“I firmly stand by what Charles Barkley just said,” tweeted Williams.
“If you choose not to kneel for the national anthem, you are NOT a bad person and you should NOT get vilified,” he added.
Barkley most recently made headlines when he called out black entertainers and sports figures by name for making anti-Semitic comments while advocating for black empowerment.
“Man, what the hell are y’all doing?” he asked emphatically.
Here’s more of the discussion about NBA social justice:
The Inside Guys Discuss the Social Justice Messages On Jerseys For the Season Restart | NBA on TNT