Charles Barkley Credit: NBA on TNT

Inside the NBA analyst Charles Barkley has never made it hard to know how he feels about current NBA players sitting out games during the season due to load management.

Tuesday night, he made his feelings crystal clear once more.

During the NBA on TNT opening night broadcast for the 2023-24 NBA season, Sir Charles has no sympathy for NBA players who miss games due to the practice of limiting minutes during the season to ensure they’ll be healthy in the playoffs.

“I’m talking to the players, man. Forget the ownership, forget the fans, as a player, if you’re going to make $50 or 60 million a year to play basketball three or four days a week, play basketball, man,” said Barkley. “Now, if you’re injured, don’t play. But everybody’s hurt after the first two weeks of the season. Your legs sore, your knees sore. If you’re injured, I don’t want you to play.

“But the notion that, No. 1, bless these guys. If you’re making 30, 40, 50 million dollars to play basketball four days a week. Y’all have got the best shoes, you’ve got the best medical staff, you’ve got these guys sleeping in chambers, you’ve got ice baths.

“Man, if you can play, shut the hell up and play.”

Admittedly, it’s a little weird to hear Charles lead a rallying cry against NBA players on the opening night of the NBA season while flanked by the commissioner and getting cheered on. It makes for an interesting contrast with his question about domestic violence for Silver. Barkley can be a man of the people and he can be a useful tool as well.

Barkley previously called out NBA players by comparing their issues to the plights of steelworkers.

“It ain’t like we’re working in the steel mill, brother,” Barkley said in February. “I mean there’s people working the steel mill every day, I’m pretty sure they’re tired too. But they go to work every day, so yeah, I think load management is a big deal.”

The Basketball Hall of Famer often fixates on the money that modern NBA players make as a reason why they shouldn’t consider load management or similar strategies to keep themselves healthy over the long term. It’s certainly an argument that has plenty of defenders, but if NBA owners and coaches are okay with it because it improves their chances of winning championships, it’s hard to imagine Barkley’s bickering will make much of a difference.

[NBA on TNT]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.