NBA Legend Charles Barkley on Standing Up Against Discrimination: 'I'm Never Going to Sit Back'
"I think in a time when you're black, you got to stand up for other people," Charles Barkley said
Charles Barkley has no problem standing up for what he believes in.
During the NBA Hall of Famer’s appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Wednesday, DeGeneres, 62, personally thanked him for speaking out against discrimination, most notably when he initially pulled out of the 2017 NBA All-Star game in Charlotte, North Carolina due to the state’s controversial bathroom bill, HB2.
“Well I hated the bathroom bill, so I went to my boss and said, ‘Hey boss I’m gonna sit out of the All-Star game. I don’t want to to take away from the All-Star game, but I’m gonna sit out the All-Star game,'” Barkley, 56, recalled.
“He says, ‘You can’t sit out the All-Star game, you are our biggest star,'” Barkley said. “I said, ‘Well, I gotta make a stand against discrimination. He said, ‘Let me talk to the NBA.'”
Barkley explained that thanks in part to his efforts, Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, decided to move the game out of Charlotte and to New Orleans.
“It was a really nice gesture for the NBA,” he said. “I think in a time when you’re black, you got to stand up for other people. Black people know what discrimination is like. If your in a position of power, you got to always stand up against discrimination. I’ve been blessed man, and I’m never going to sit back and let discrimination happen on my watch.”
After Barkley received a huge round of applause, DeGeneres co-signed his fight against inequality.
“That’s how I feel about any discrimination at all, any inequality. It’s like, for you to think that you somehow, they’ll never come after you for something, it’s just wrong,” she said.
During his NBA career from 1984 to 2000, Barkley played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. In 1996, he was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
He also competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games and won two gold medals as a member of the United States’ “Dream Team.”
Since retiring, Barkley has been an NBA analyst for TNT alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson.