Do not come at retired NBA star “Sir Charles” Barkley with any anti-vaccine paranoia if you’re a pro athlete. The 58-year-old hall of famer isn’t having it, and he made that clear in a guest-hosting stint on a Philadelphia sports radio show.
Barkley was filling in on The Mike Missanelli Show when the subject of pro athletes refusing the COVID-19 shot—examples include golfer Bryson DeChambeau and just-released Patriots QB Cam Newton—came up.
“For us to be selfish and not trying to help the world get back where we can take these stupid masks off and go out to dinner in a full restaurant, I just think it’s selfish,” Barkley said.
He continued, noting conspiracy theories surrounding coronavirus-fighting vaccinations: “I’ve heard these idiots talk about chips in it, and I heard people talking about [the government] wants to follow us around,” Barkley said.
“They can follow us around anyway,” he continued, “Everybody got a cellphone. And first of all, what are you doing that you’re worried about people following you?”
While Sir Charles has been in hot water in the past over his plainspoken ways, it’s clear he’s going to speak his mind no matter what. In comments made to CNBC in July, he was, if anything, even blunter.
“Yes, I’m vaccinated,“ Barkley said, “Everybody should be vaccinated. Period. The only people who are not vaccinated are just assholes.”
He wasn’t done with that. CNBC reports Barkley went on to say, “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 bullshit? I think that would be tragic.”
Anti-vaccination paranoia can hit an entire team’s bottom line too. The Boston Red Sox have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the major leagues and a COVID-19 outbreak that took out key players like Xander Bogaerts put a real dent in what had otherwise been a successful season.
It might be time to bring Charles Barkley into clubhouses across all the major pro sports for his version of a pep talk.