Some months ago, Charles Barkley, Shaq, and President Obama appeared on a television special to talk about why people should get the COVID vaccine. Although the men were light-hearted and sympathetic at that time, “The Round Mound of Rebound” adopted a more aggressive stance towards anyone who continues to be unvaccinated. “Everybody should be vaccinated. Period,” CNBC quoted him as saying on Wednesday. “The only people who are not vaccinated are just a–holes.”
Barkley doubled down on the idea that professional athletes should be forced to get the shot or barred from playing. “Can you imagine if one of these guys that are not vaccinated, if they get one of these players’ kids, wives, girlfriends, moms and dads sick and they die over some unnecessary conspiracy bulls—,” he continued. “I think that would be tragic.”
“There’s sh-t you can’t do at work and there’s sh-t that have to do at work,” Barley noted. “So every workplace has rules, and I think one of the rules [should be] that guys have to be vaccinated.”
This is not the first time the NBA analyst has come under fire for questionable remarks about the vaccine, particularly regarding who should receive it. In January, Barkley felt pro athletes deserved to be first in line for the shot. “We need 300 million shots… give a thousand to some NBA players, NFL players, hockey players,” Barkley said on TNT’s Inside the NBA. “As much taxes as these players pay — let me repeat that — as much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment.”
Co-hosts Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson tried to explain to Barkley that taxes are a function of the income bracket and perhaps the elderly or immunocompromised have a greater need for vaccination. But Barkley fired right back at them. “I said taxes. I didn’t say the amount of money you make,” he said. “I said the amount of taxes these guys pay… A thousand shots to NBA players is not going to change the world.”
Barkley’s sentiments are facing some roadblocks when it comes to applying them, however. The NFL has recently become the most high-profile sports organization to struggle with rules concerning the vaccine. Although it will not force players to get the shot for the time being, unvaccinated players will be subject to stringent testing. Furthermore, stiff penalties can be imposed if games are canceled due to outbreaks, including fines, teams being credited with losses, and forfeiture of game pay for both teams involved in an outbreak.