Charles Barkley called out President Trump for his word choice in saying he hopes that NFL owners will suspend or fine players who refuse to stand for the national anthem, but added that the debate really goes beyond kneeling.
In a speech Friday in Huntsville, Ala., the president told the crowd: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” he said at a rally for Republican Sen. Luther Strange, who is running in a special election next week to remain in the seat vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions.
“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
Barkley, who analyzes the NBA for TNT, has been outspoken about racial issues over the years and he told CBS’s “NFL Today:” “No. 1, the president of the United States should never use the word ‘SOB,’ ” Barkley said, condensing Trump’s word choice. “That’s just 100 percent inappropriate. I’m embarrassed because he said the speech in Alabama [Barkley’s home state] and got a rousing reception when he said those things. So it hurts me that those ignorant folks in Alabama would applaud something so stupid. But the president of the United States should never use the word ‘SOB.’
“He’s the president of the United States, but let me say this. We as players got to figure out what to do next. We got to stop worrying about who’s kneeling, who’s not kneeling. We got to figure out how we can go back in our communities and make a difference. We can’t be saying negative things on Twitter. That only escalates … the stupidity. These guys, myself included, we make more money than 99.9 percent of the people in the world. We’ve got to find a way to go back in our communities and raise up our communities. Let’s not worry about who’s kneeling and things like that.”
Barkley had weighed in Saturday on the question of whether the Golden State Warriors would visit the White House, a debate that was rendered moot when Trump rescinded the invitation for star Stephen Curry.
“I think it’s really unfortunate. I think that it’s an honor and privilege to go to the White House, no matter who the president is,” said Barkley during a phone interview with NBA TV Saturday. “And also, I thought it would have been an opportunity for those guys to sit down and talk to the president about some of the issues and concerns they had.
“We’re all concerned about police brutality. I’m concerned about DACA. They could have negotiated a sit-down instead of just coming in, do that informal stuff where he stands there and you get your jersey and everything. It’s unfortunate. It’s just really sad, to be honest with you. When guys start not going to the White House because they don’t like who the president is, I think that sets a bad precedent.”