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Charles Barkley Takes A Stand For America – Defends Athletes Refusing To Kneel For Anthem

NBA Hall of Famer and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley is defending athletes who choose to stand for the national anthem. Barkley and fellow NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal do not see eye-to-eye on whether players choose to kneel for the anthem. Both are outspoken about what they believe so the two went toe-to-toe on the subject Thursday.

Even though every player took a knee for the first game of the 2019-2020 season between New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz, Barkley says a player should not be “vilified” if they stand.

Charles Barkley And Shaquille O’Neal Have Different Opinions On Anthem Kneeling

While appearing on “The Inside Guys” on TNT, Shaquille O’Neal applauded the players and coaches who took a knee during the national anthem before the first NBA game of the season. 

“When you have you platform, I think it is very important that you speak up, it’s very important that you speak your mind but when you talk about change, you also have to talk about protocol,” said O’Neal, according to The Blaze [3]

“So we use our voice to bring awareness,” he continued. “Now we have to go vote, we have to vote our mayors in, our mayors are to appoint new chiefs of police. We have to vote senators and politicians. It doesn’t just stop with sending our a tweet or yelling all the time.”

RELATED: Shaq Blasts Pro-America Pro-Democracy Message Directed at NBA and China’s “Injustices” [4]

Charles Barkley Fires Back

Barkley, however, was not having any of it. 

“The thing is, listen, that’s gonna mean different things to different people,” Barkley replied. “I’m glad these guys are all unified, but if people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person.”

“I want to make that perfectly clear, I’m glad they had unity, but if we have a guy who doesn’t want to kneel because the anthem means something to him, he should not be vilified,” he concluded. 

RELATED: Charles Barkley’s Answer On Family Feud Makes His Teammate Join Their Opponents! [5]

Here Comes The Backlash

Unfortunately, Barkley has been met with some serious backlash on social media. Many users had a visceral reaction to his comments defending a player’s right to stand for the national anthem.

RELATED: Spurs’ Coach Gregg Popovich Says You’re ‘Ignorant’ If You Don’t Back Black Lives Matter [11]

Others, however, agreed with Charles Barkley. One such person was former NBA player and ESPN host Jay Williams, who tweeted:

It’s about time another sports legend stood up for the anthem besides Drew Brees [13]. Especially since the NFL quarterback later walked it back.

I for one am thankful to see Barkley join ranks with the NFL’s Brees, Mike Ditka [14], and Stephon Tuitt [15], as well as MLB’s Sam Coonrod [16] who boldly advocate for our anthem and flag.

In the end, it’s just sad that we live in a time when simply saying that it’s okay not to kneel during the national anthem is such a controversial statement.