Charles Barkley Says Focus on Social Justice Statements Distracts From Issues

Barkley says focus should be on police and prison reform, not kneeling and jerseys

Charles Barkley Social Justice
Charles Barkley commentates from the booth during The Match: Champions For Charity at Medalist Golf Club on May 24, 2020 in Hobe Sound, Florida.
Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images for The Match

NBA legend and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley had some harsh words for the sporting world this week, saying that the focus on the actions behind social justice awareness are distracting from what should be the focus: the issues themselves. Appearing on CNBC’s Power Lunch, Barkley said that the focus has turned from those issues into who is kneeling and who is wearing what on the back of their jerseys, muddling the message of actual reform.


Barkley didn’t mince words, calling the focus on the statements a “circus” that’s detrimental to actual progress:

What’s happening now is we’re turning into a circus. Instead of talking about racial equality, racial justice and economic justice, we spend all our time worrying about who’s kneeling and not kneeling. What’s being said on buses. What’s been said on jerseys. I think we’re missing the point.

We need police reform, prison reform. Those are No. 1 and No. 2 things to focus on. We need the cops, good cops out there policing bad cops. … When we spend time focusing on what’s on the jersey, that’s gonna defeat purpose. My concern is this is turning into a circus instead of trying to do some good stuff.

Barkley also touched on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and how it will affect the restarted NBA, saying that it would be “foolish” to expect the league to get through the rest of the season without a positive test:

I think you’d have to be foolish to think we could go that whole three months without getting positive tests, but I think we are all flying in the dark right now and I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen.

He also said that the league should try to restart anyway, because a lot of money could be lost for the players if not, and that’s money that they could reinvest into their communities.

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