NBA legend TNT analyst Charles Barkley publicly criticized Vice President Mike Pence Thursday night after Pence spoke out against the NBA's stance on the Hong Kong-China controversy.
In an appearance on "Inside the NBA," Barkley said Pence "needs to shut the h— up" regarding the conflict.
"All American companies are doing business in China," Barkley said. "I thought the criticism of Commissioner Silver and LeBron James was unfair."
The retired power forward went on to explain that Daryl Morey — whose tweet expressing support for protesters in Hong Kong ignited backlash in China against the NBA — was entitled to say whatever he wished "but there are consequences." He then pivoted to Pence and other politicians
"I don't understand why these holier-than-thou politicians — if they're so worried about China, why don't they stop all transactions with China?" Barkley said. "President Trump has been talking about and arguing with tariffs for China for the last two years."
"I think it's unfair for them to do all their business in China, and, just because this thing happened, try to make the NBA and our players look bad," he added.
—Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 25, 2019
Earlier in the day, Pence lambasted Nike and the NBA for their lack of vocal support for Hong Kong during its ongoing conflict with China.
"Nike promotes itself as a so-called social justice champion, but when it comes to Hong Kong, it prefers checking its social conscience at the door," Pence said. "And some of the NBA's biggest players and owners who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of the people of China."
"In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly-owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime," he added. "When American corporations, professional sports, [and] pro athletes embrace censorship, it's not just wrong — it's un-American."
—ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 24, 2019
Well after Morey sent and then deleted his tweet in support of Hong Kong protestors, LeBron James told members of the press that he believed the GM "wasn't educated on the situation at hand." Those comments sparked a flood of social-media backlash, with many accusing James of prioritizing compensation over morality even after he tweeted that he meant Morey was uneducated on the potential impact of his tweet rather than on its content.
—LeBron James (@KingJames) October 15, 2019
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, meanwhile, said the league will not apologize for Morey's tweet but has described the conflict as unfortunate.
Former NBA star and fellow "Inside the NBA" analyst Shaquille O'Neal was stronger in his defense of Morey, saying that "whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say, 'That's not right,' and that's what he did."
"Daryl Morey was right," he said on the show earlier this week.
Protests in opposition to an extradition bill that would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kongers to mainland China have been occuring for months. The legislation has since been scrapped, but the protests have morphed into pro-democracy demonstrations opposing encroachment by China.