NBA legend Charles Barkley slammed ESPN analyst Stephen Smith for suggesting that “white privilege” was behind the Brooklyn Nets’s decision to hire Hall-of-Famer Steve Nash as its new head coach.
— Cameron Cox (@CamCox12) September 4, 2020
“I was very disappointed with some of the guys on television today talking about ‘white privilege,’ very disappointed,” Barkley said on Thursday.
“They’re like, ‘Well, this doesn’t happen to black guys.’ I’m like, ‘It happened to Doc Rivers, it happened to Jason Kidd, it happened to Derek Fisher.’ So, I was really disappointed.”
Smith had claimed last week that Nash’s hire is proof that white men are more advantaged in professional sports than black men.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no way around this. This is white privilege. This does not happen for a Black man,” Smith said.
Barkley, however, said Smith’s characterization is dishonest.
“Steve Nash is a great player and a good dude. But I was so disappointed in some of these guys. I was like, ‘Dude, black guys have done this before,'” he said.
“Now, do we need more black coaches in the NBA? Yes,” he continued. “Do we need more black coaches in college football? Yes. Do we need more black coaches in pro football. Yes. But this wasn’t the right time to say it today.”
Barkley warned that after the explosion of race riots and cancel culture recently, ostensibly in the aftermath of George Floyd’s Memorial Day death, that those seeking progress must be careful not to overplay their hand with absurd claims and demands.
“When you have a responsibility, especially when you have to talk about something serious like race, you can’t be full of crap,” he said. “You’ve got to be honest and fair.”
But Smith did not back down.
“I have a message to those who feel that I was wrong, that I need to apologize, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, etc., etc. I don’t give a damn what y’all feel,” he said.
“Y’all can all kick rocks. I don’t give a damn,” he continued. “I’m not budging from my position one inch.”