Charles Barkley talks ‘personal responsibility’ in the Black community amid COVID-19

The NBA All-Star said because he was afraid of becoming 'big as a house,' he works out more and changed his eating and drinking

Charles Barkley
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 24: Charles Barkley attends the 2019 NBA Awards at Barker Hangar. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

In a well-meaning interview about his personal habits, NBA legend and commentator, Charles Barkley, talked to CNN’s Don Lemon and Van Jones about how he has taken responsibility for his health during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I had to make a conscious effort myself,” Barkley said, “I like to drink. I probably drink too much. I’m only drinking on the weekend (now). I’ve been a casual drinker for 30-40 years.” The legend added that he has also been working out more frequently and eating better.

READ MORE: Charles Barkley self-quarantines while waiting for coronavirus test results

According to Nielsen, a data and analytics company, Barkley isn’t alone. Alcohol consumption in March of 2020 is 55% higher than at the same time in 2019.


BARRA DO PIRAI, BRAZIL – MARCH 31: Detail of beer bottles inside of Ambev’s Barra do Pirai Brewery. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Don Lemon acknowledged the toll that the quarantine and pandemic is having on Americans, “A lot of people are gonna have to check into AA, or Overeaters Anonymous, or deal with their mental health because they are going stir crazy.” Lemon said that while he hasn’t consumed alcohol since the New Year, he has been overeating during the pandemic.

Barkley agreed, “I could be as big as a house when this thing is over,” he said, “This was a wake-up call to me.”

On the subject of how the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is disproportionately affecting Black people, the United States Surgeon General, Jerome Adams warned against the use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs in a now-famous quote. “We need you to do this, if not for yourself, then for your abuela, do it for your granddaddy, do it for your big mama, do it for your pop pop,” Adams said.

The colloquial language was offensive to some, however, Adams, who is African American, defended his statements saying that he used the language that is common to his own family.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases defended Adams while noting other factors that attribute to the effects of the disease on Black people.

He explains that the virus highlights “health disparities have always existed for the African American community,” he said. “But here again, with the crisis, how it’s shining a bright light on how unacceptable that is.”

READ MORE: Charles Barkley says Kobe Bryant’s NBA career and rape case are both part of legacy

Systemic injustice and personal responsibility are both factors contributing to the devastation that the virus is having on the Black community, but for Barkley, his health was a lifestyle choice, “Every person has to look in the mirror. I had to look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Charles, you cannot drink every day and you cannot eat everything that’s not nailed down.’”

The NBA legend explains that for him, navigating health during the pandemic is a matter of choice. “At the end of the day, it’s all gon’ come down to personal responsibility. I had to make my own choices.”