ST. LOUIS, Mo. (CBS St. Louis) – Former NBA player Charles Barkley has responded to his TNT analyst colleague Kenny Smith’s open letter that he wrote to him about Ferguson.
Barkley first responded to Smith when he appeared on 97.5 The Fanatic and then again Thursday night while on Inside the NBA.
While on 97.5 The Fanatic, Barkley responded by stating that he disagreed with Smith bringing up slavery in his open letter, which he published on For The Win.
“Well, Mike, every time something bad happens in the black community, we can’t bring up slavery,” Barkley said on the show. “I totally disagree with that. And you know, rioting doesn’t accomplish anything. And you know, to criticize me for using the word ‘scumbag’ or crooks or anything, I’m not going to get into the hyperbole over one word.”
“But I did not like the fact that he brought up slavery,” Barkley continued. “That is ridiculous to bring up slavery, there’s not a slave alive who knows anything about Michael Brown or Ferguson, Mo. I think that was disingenuous.”
Smith felt the need to respond to Barkley’s original comments, which occurred during a segment on CNN where he was asked his thoughts on the ongoing situation in Ferguson, Mo. since a grand jury didn’t indict former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown. Barkley was contacted by Smith prior to him writing the open letter to him.
“He called me and asked if he could write the letter and I said ‘sure.’ I’m not offended that people disagree with me,” Barkley shared on 97.5 The Fanatic. “As long as we’re having an open dialogue. We should be having an open dialogue about the cops, the black community, we clearly have to do better, we gotta do a better job of policing ourselves. I don’t blame all my ills on white folks, that’s just ridiculous.”
While on 97.5 The Fanatic, Barkley also shared his views on racism and how he is sometimes perceived by the public when he comments on issues.
“Listen man, I know that I’m black and I’m always going to be,” Barkley said on 97.5 The Fanatic. “I know anytime I disagree with black people I’m going to be a sell-out or an Uncle Tom. But I’m gonna try to always be fair, I’m going to judge everyone on their own merits. And like I said, as a black man I do understand that racism exists. It does exist. It always has and always will. And there are black racists also. I was taken back by the slavery comment.”
In the A-block of Inside the NBA, the crew discussed Smith’s letter, the Ferguson case and the Eric Garner case. Barkley reinforced his point of being disappointed that Smith brought up slavery in his letter, while Smith pointed out he was more disappointed in the media treating Barkley’s voice as one that should be given equal weight to more prominent civil rights leaders.