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NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has always been a lightning rod for controversy, but he may have gone a little too far with his take on pro athletes being given preferential treatment when it comes to the coronavirus vaccine.
In a discussion about the vaccine — the sports world today spends almost as much time talking politics as they do analyzing games — on TNT’s Inside the NBA, Barkley pointed to how much these athletes pay in taxes to justify jumping to the front of the line.
An assessment that only reinforces the perception many have about elitist athletes earning tens of millions of dollars for playing a game.
“Three hundred million shots, give a thousand to some NBA players, NFL players, hockey players,” Barkley insisted. “Listen, as much taxes as these players pay, let me repeat that, as much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment.”
Charles Barkley says NBA/NFL players should jump the line and get vaccine shots because they pay more taxes than normal people pic.twitter.com/ce5y1WTTOk
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 15, 2021
Fellow analyst Kenny Smith tried to save Barkley by asking should players get special treatment when it comes to “life or death.”
“Yes,” Barkley replied, which prompted Smith to say “the amount of money you make” shouldn’t determine when someone receives the vaccine.
“I didn’t say how much money you make. I said taxes,” Barkley clarified.
“We can’t go there,” Smith fired back. “I don’t think you can go there.”
Barkley’s assessment would apply to far more than wealthy athletes, effectively pushing the wealthy ahead of working class Americans.
While generally beloved for his frankness and outspokenness, Barkley may want this one back as social media users lambasted him for his suggestion.
Here’s a sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:
You really gonna argue that players should jump the lines over vulnerable elderly folks and health workers and people who have high-risk conditions? Is that really what you’re advocating? You know Black people are dying disproportionately? This is your position, Barkley? Come on.
— An Incandescent Fury (@ellebe6) January 15, 2021
Bill Gates donated billions to develop and test the vaccines and even he’s not jumping in line.
— Korey Kruse (@KoreyKruse) January 15, 2021
Thank Kenny for at least attempting to straighten out Charles mess. He obviously only believes people with higher incomes should exist in our society. Thank goodness he was talented in basketball. Would really like to know what his life would have been like w/o it.
— GQ Lewis 💜💛 (@gqlewis) January 15, 2021
I like Barkley but this is bordering on idiocy. If he really thinks they should get vaccinated early…. there are better arguments than “they pay more taxes than normal people”.
— DonC (@DLC77381) January 15, 2021
The truth is actually the opposite. Instead of vaccinating those that have money to isolate or are quarantined in fancy hotels, we should be vaccinating everyday people that have no choice but to continue to work w/o isolation and are highly exposed just to put food on the table.
— Kirby (@tahinek) January 15, 2021
Valuing someone’s life base in income goes against the very principal that we are all created equal.
Grocery store workers, drivers that keep our food supply coming, food factory workers… we can go on & on who should get the vaccine before entertainers
— Robson Borba (@Rborba23) January 15, 2021
Wow! Maybe people who put their life on the line every day, protecting our nation, providing healthcare, teaching our children, and people who have served…
Sit down Charles. SMDH
— maerme (@maerme1965) January 15, 2021
I luv Chuck, but he’s dead wrong. No one should get preferential treatment because they pay “more in taxes.” If that’s the case, then players who live in states with a state & federal income tax system should be before players who live in Tx, for example.
— scottish4ever (@scottish4ever1) January 15, 2021
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