Charles Barkley Wants American Companies to 'Get Off Their A--' and Endorse WNBA Players

Barkley tells PEOPLE that he wants more money going to the WNBA so players like Brittney Griner "don't have to go overseas and play in the off-season"

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NBA legend Charles Barkley is calling upon American companies to start endorsing WNBA stars.

While meeting fans at his Bark.Dawgs pop-up shop with Ruffles during NBA All-Star Weekend, the 60-year-old NBA legend took a moment to advocate for the women of the WNBA.

"I love the women at the WNBA," Barkley tells PEOPLE, explaining that he sympathizes with the "rough time" the league has had, "with the whole Brittney Griner thing in the last year," he says.

Barkley, who is thrilled to be a Ruffles athlete alongside WNBA star A'ja Wilson, says he hopes "some of these American companies will get off their a-- and get these girls endorsements so they don't have to go overseas and play in the off-season."

The NBA on TNT analyst calls the need for female basketball players to play overseas "really unfortunate" and adds that doing so puts the players "in harm's way."

"Some of these American companies should get these girls endorsements," Barkley says. "Number one, it'd be great for both brands, because anytime you get to help women's sports, it's a great thing."

Charles Barkley Hot Dog Flavored Ruffles
Courtesy Ruffles

In August, Ruffles announced a historic move for the chip company as WNBA champion Wilson became the first female athlete on the company's roster. "It's a blessing, it really is," Wilson told PEOPLE of landing her endorsement with Ruffles at the time.

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Each of the Ruffles athletes gets with their own personalized chip flavor, and for his, Barkley went with one of his culinary favorites – Ruffles Hot Dog – inspired by one of his favorite foods and his own unique personality.

Charles Barkley Hot Dog Flavored Ruffles
Courtesy Ruffles

"It's an honor to work with Ruffles," Barkley says.

"They're an iconic brand and when they called me, I thought it was pretty special. I mean, first of all, I think everybody likes potato chips, but Ruffles is at the forefront, and it's an honor and a privilege to be associated with them."

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