Former NBA star Charles Barkley says that, if a player doesn’t want to kneel in protest during the National Anthem, “he should not be vilified.”
Appearing as a sports analyst on TNT on Wednesday, Barkley said that declining to kneel does not make a player a bad person – especially if “the anthem means something to him”:
“The thing is, listen, the national anthem means different things to different people. 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 have 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.”
Barkley expanded on this sentiment last month in an appearance of ESPN, when he compared NBA players who don’t kneel to the Black NFL players who did not kneel along with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Pressuring other people to join in your protest “is a very slippery slope, Barkley warned:
“This is a very slippery slope, I think. Because, does it make you a bad guy if you don’t kneel?
“Because, if you go back and look at Colin Kaepernick, there was only like thirty players kneeling with him. Did that make all those other black guys bad guys?
“I think this is a very slippery slope. I think, if you want to kneel, bless you for the protest. But, I don’t think you’re a bad guy because, like I say, you’re going back to Drew Breese, he said what the flag meant to him. It’s going to mean something different for everybody.
“But, like I say, it don’t make you a bad guy if you don’t kneel, in my opinion. But, if you want to kneel, we thank you for the support.”