Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley has never been shy about sharing his opinions, a trait that started with trash talk on the court with fellow NBA players. Luckily for the Round Mound of Rebound, his second career in the sport as an analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA show alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson pays him to keep on talking.
That doesn’t mean, though, that he’s going to be particularly profound on any given night. But it does means that he’ll sometimes be dead wrong, which happened on the latest show as Barkley served up one of his most ridiculous thoughts ever.
The NBA has a COVID-19 problem
The league’s ability to resume its season and then conduct a full set of playoffs at the bubble in Orlando this summer gave the NBA a false sense of security regarding its ability to handle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Positive tests and the contact-tracing implications from those tests are creating significant problems for the NBA in the new season because the bubble no longer exists. Teams are playing games in their home arenas and traveling around the country for road games.
As a consequence, numerous teams have had to scratch multiple players from games as a precaution. When the number of available players dips below eight, games have to be postponed. The first such instance occurred on Dec. 23 when the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets called off their opener.
After ducking problems for more than two weeks afterward, the NBA has a problem. There have already been eight postponements announced for this week, including three involving the Boston Celtics and two apiece for the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns.
Charles Barkley says he has a solution. While it technically would seem to prevent the schedule from blowing up completely, the former Philadelphia 76ers star’s rationale is bonkers.
Charles Barkley wants preferential pandemic treatment for the NBA
Appearing on the Jan. 14 Inside the NBA show following a Denver Nuggets-Golden State Warriors game, Charles Barkley campaigned for special treatment for pro athletes by moving them closer to the front of the line for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We need 300 million shots, give a thousand to some NBA players, NFL players, hockey players,” Barkley said. “As much taxes as these players pay — let me repeat that — as much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment.”
Fellow analyst Kenny Smith questioned the idea immediately, as did host Ernie Johnson.
“You gotta take care of the elderly and the at-risk,” Johnson said.
It didn’t take long for social media to start destroying Barkley. Darren Rovell’s reaction was about the tamest of the bunch but still decidedly opposed to what Barkley was suggesting.
Barkley did backtrack ever so slightly by indicating that he didn’t think athletes belonged at the very front of the line.
“I totally agree we need to take care of the first responders and the old people,” Barkley said, according to Mediaite.com. “But I’m saying, giving a thousand shots to NBA players is not going to change the world.”
Charles Barkley’s hot take shouldn’t overshadow the issue
As awful as Charles Barkley’s reasoning is for giving special treatment to NBA players when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, he is at least recognizes that the league has a problem that’s likely to get worse. Commissioner Adam Silver’s train of thought hasn’t reached the same station, at least publicly.
This week alone, there have already been eight regular-season games postponed:
- Jan. 10: Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics
- Jan. 11: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks
- Jan. 12: Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls
- Jan. 13: Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics
- Jan. 13: Utah Jazz vs. Washington Wizards
- Jan. 13: Atlanta Hawks vs. Phoenix Suns
- Jan. 15: Washington Wizards vs. Detroit Pistons
- Jan. 15: Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns
Despite the problems, the NBA is not contemplating pausing the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.