Former NBA player Kenny Smith, now an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” blasted fellow analyst Charles Barkley for his comments on events in Ferguson, Missouri, saying Barkley had no justification for offering his opinion.
Barkley had stated:
[Those expletives] who are looting, those aren’t real black people, those are scumbags. Real black people, they’re not out there looting…. I’m not saying who is right or wrong, I’m just hearing the true story that came out of the grand jury investigation…. Let me just say this. I think that we, we – I know I’m black, but I’m going to try to always be honest and fair – we have to be really careful with the cops. If it wasn’t for the cops, we’d be living in the wild, wild west in out neighborhoods. We can’t pick out certain incidents that don’t go our way and act like the cops are all bad.
Smith, in an open letter to For The Win, belittled Barkley for having the temerity to offer his opinion. He wrote that “what I consistently find interesting is how writers and media members view your insights in politics, and now race relations, with the same reverence as your insights in sports. They did it in the Trayvon Martin trial and now with Mike Brown and the decision in Ferguson. It’s not that you shouldn’t ever have an opinion, but you are often quoted alongside the likes of Al Sharpton and even President Obama.”
And why does Smith think Obama and Sharpton have the right to speak while Sir Charles should be silenced? “The body of work that our Black Civil Rights leaders put in by planning, executing and activating does not justify you being in the conversation.“
Smith then referenced black history as an explanation for the behavior in Ferguson, writing, “The question must be asked: Why is there so much distrust in the police and the legal system from the African American community? Without manifesting what the effects of slavery still have today, Dec 1st still marks only 59 years since Rosa Parks sat on that memorable bus.”
Barkley responded to Smith in person on TNT’s Thursday night NBA broadcast by rejecting the injection of slavery into contemporary issues. “Maybe I shouldn’t have used the term ‘scumbags,’ but it’s irrelevant,” Barkley maintained. “Still, there is no justification for what they did. If I’d have said crooks, thugs or whatever, still, what they did was 100 percent wrong.”