NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has fired back at Vice President Mike Pence’s comments blasting the NBA for “bowing” (as some say) to China.
The league has been scrutinized since Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted his support for pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, which the league later called “regrettable.”
Morey apologized and deleted his original tweet, but the damage was already done. His pro-protestors tweet sparked backlash in China, causing companies to cut ties with the Rockets, the team Barkley played on during his final NBA season.
Pence slammed the NBA for its reaction on the controversial China issue, saying it’s “un-American” for American companies to “embrace censorship.”
“In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime,” Pence said, The Hill reports.
Barkley has fired back… advising Pence “to shut the hell up.”
“First of all, Vice President Pence needs to shut the hell up,” the 11-time All Star said during an NBA pregame show on TNT. “All American companies are doing business in China.”
Barkley also noted that he’s not here for politicians who are attempting “to make the NBA and our players look bad.”
“But I don’t understand why these holier than thou politicians — if they’re so worried about China, then why don’t they stop all transactions with China?” he said of President Trump’s trade war with China.
Earlier this month, LA Lakers forward LeBron James had taken aim at Morey for throwing support behind anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong, who are calling for independence and self-governance. James called Morey’s support “misinformed.”
“I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand,” James said. “So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but emotionally, physically, spiritually … Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative because of that too.”