Former NBA star Charles Barkley said he fears sports are getting too political and that it has become a distraction in the fight for racial and economic justice.
“We need police reform. We need prison reform,” Barkley told CNBC on Friday. “My concern is turning this into a circus instead of trying to do some good stuff.”
Barkley, who is now an NBA analyst, said sports offer fans an escape and noted that he is curious to see how fans will react to more social justice messaging once major sports make a comeback. Last week, it was reported that the NBA agreed to a plan allowing players to wear certain social justice phrases on the back of their jerseys. The NBA also plans to paint “Black Lives Matter” on courts when games resume.
“The last thing they want to do is turn on the television and hear arguments all the time. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the public reacts,” Barkley said.
Barkley also addressed the coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened millions and has been tied to at least 134,000 deaths in the United States. NBA players have begun to arrive in hard-hit Florida as the NBA readies for a July 30 start. Barkley said that some players getting sick is inevitable.
“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 said.
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