Charles Barkley once suggested players should be able to fight fans, but he doesn’t support Shannon Sharpe’s near bout with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Last Friday night, Sharpe sat courtside at the Los Angeles Lakers game and taunted Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks. Then, the verbal jawing nearly escalated into something bigger. Sharpe was briefly escorted off the court by security After preparing to take on a few Grizzlies players and their family members. Surprisingly, they allowed him to return to his seat. Sharpe has since issued a lengthy apology, accepting blame for the altercation. But Barkley still made it clear he has no defense for the Pro Football Hall-of-Famer and Undisputed host.
“Reporters can never get into it with players”
— SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) January 24, 2023
“Reporters can never get into it with players,” Barkley said. “That’s my rule of thumb, because, you know, we get paid to talk about these guys. And if you hate guys or don’t get along with guys, you’re gonna be somewhat biased whether you believe it or not.
“Television’s a very powerful vehicle,” he continued on SiriusXM. “And you’ve got to be really careful because people believe everything we say, unfortunately. I’m not saying anybody was right or wrong. But I’m saying, as a guy who’s on television, I could never get into it with the players. That’s just my rule of thumb.”
I’m surprised Barkley’s response was so measured. Especially considering the rate at which he’s mocked Sharpe and Skip Bayless in recent weeks. Sharpe’s Friday night altercation seemed like low-hanging fruit for Barkley.
But maybe Barkley recognizes he taunts NBA players as much as anybody on TV. And he remembers his infamous feud with Kevin Durant. The difference is that Barkley does it from behind a camera, not a courtside seat the way Sharpe did last week. Does that make it better? Was Sharpe out of line just by jawing at Brooks? Or was it when he stood up and waved the Grizzlies players over that pushed the incident over the edge?
While Barkley condemned Sharpe for getting into it with players, he previously supported players going after fans. After a fan allegedly harassed Chris Paul’s mother last year, Barkley suggested players should be able to deal with unruly crowds by “beating their ass.” When Barkley had t-shirts thrown at him by Golden State Warriors fans at the NBA Finals last year, he responded by dumping water on them. But apparently, everyone has a line they won’t cross.