In lamenting the cancellation of the Oregon-Virginia Commonwealth University men’s NCAA first-round tournament matchup because of the latter’s COVID issues, basketball analyst and former NBA star Charles Barkley reminded America of the bigger picture.
“It’s just a stupid basketball game. You look at our country, the greatest country in the world. We lost so many people. How many people have lost their jobs, lost their businesses, lost their house? That’s real life. Death, not having a place to live, your business and your job: that is real life. I’m sad for VCU. I am. But…it’s just a basketball game,” Barkley explained on the March Madness broadcast on TBS.
Barkley went on to say that the coronavirus pandemic is the worst thing that has occurred in his lifetime other than the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“I never felt as bad as I did after 9/11 until the last year when you turn on the TV every single day, it’s ‘How many people died today?’…’how many people got infected.’ It is tough; it’s sad. We lost one of our coworkers here at Turner: Sekou Smith. Great guy, 40-something years old. I lost a high school teammate the week of Christmas. Man, this thing is just sad, and I hope whoever’s got it, I hope they’re safe,” Barkley added.
Here is Charles Barkley unfiltered on COVID, re: VCU-Oregon.
Real, authentic TV. pic.twitter.com/NAlORKhBIR
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) March 21, 2021
The Oregon-VCU game was declared a non-contest because of “multiple positive COVID-19 tests within [the VCU] program” in a 48-hour period, ESPN reported. As a result, Oregon will automatically advance to the second round of the tournament in a game against Iowa on Monday night.
Barkley has developed a history of expressing contrarian, controversial opinions from all over the map that, agree or disagree, often distinguish him from the typically bland sports commentariat.
In January, for example, Barkley implied that pro athletes should receive prior access to the COVID vaccine because they pay a lot of taxes.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) January 15, 2021
“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.”
The NBA Hall of Famer has previously called out the sports industry for becoming way to woke, thus creating a circus-like atmosphere, and expressed opposition to the defund-the-police movement while supporting reforms in policing.
Barkley is not necessarily sanguine either about allowing college athletes (so-called student-athletes) who compete in the major sports to cash in before they graduate.
“Education, to me, that’s my biggest gripe. When these people on television talk about who should get paid or not…I get sick and tired of people telling these young kids getting a free education is nothing,”
“That’s total BS in my opinion. The NCAA got some issues, and they’re not perfect, but to tell kids especially young black kids, that getting a free education is nothing is ridiculous and stupid.”
— Beta Theta (@BetaTheta4) March 20, 2021
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