“[There are] 300 million shots. Give a thousand to some NBA players, NFL players, hockey players,” the 57-year-old said on Inside the NBA on Thursday, January 14. “As much taxes as these players pay. Let me repeat that: As much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment.”
Analyst Kenny Smith expressed his disagreement with Barkley’s viewpoint by asking whether athletes should be given special advantages when it comes to “life and death.” As the former Philadelphia 76ers replied “yes,” his colleague argued that “the amount of money you make” shouldn’t determine how someone becomes eligible to receive the vaccination.
“I didn’t say how much money you make,” Barkley said. “I said taxes. … I’m saying the amount of taxes these guys pay.”
Barkley’s remarks have garnered negative feedback across Twitter. “Society has progressed beyond the need to have Charles Barkley offer his opinion on anything,” one person wrote, as a second individual posed the question, “… Is Charles Barkley drunk?”
A third critic suggested that the masses “wouldn’t have to listen to Charles Barkley every week” if “cancel culture was a real thing.” Meanwhile, a fourth person argued that Barkley has “one of the worst Covid-19 vaccine takes” they’ve ever heard.
“Charles Barkley is funny at times, but he is a very dangerous human being,” a fifth user tweeted. “The nonsense he talks is wicked.”
Charles Barkley argues NBA and NHL players should get the COVID vaccine before others because they pay more in taxes:
“They deserve some preferential treatment.” pic.twitter.com/zF7BdWS1Z3
— The Recount (@therecount) January 15, 2021
Some people did agree with Barkley’s take. One person said athletes should be prioritized “because of what they bring to the table” since they “entertain and get our minds off of the real world.” A second person argued that the former baller is “right” because “athletes are literally putting their lives and careers on the line to entertain us.”
The NBA Hall of Famer experienced a brief coronavirus scare early last year. He began suffering from flu-like symptoms in March 2020 after visiting the Los Angeles Angels’ spring training for a speaking appearance. His doctor then advised that he enter a 48-hour quarantine.
Barkley’s COVID-19 test came back negative later that month. “I’ve received my COVID-19 test results this morning & they are negative,” he said in a statement at the time. “I’d like to thank everyone for reaching out and expressing your concern and support. You all be safe and please take the necessary actions to help ensure your well-being.”
The Alabama native began his NBA career in 1984 with the Philadelphia 76ers and ended his run in 2000 with the Houston Rockets.
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