Too far Charles

Emily Arthur

Charles Barkley is at it again – emphasis on again.

Sure, he didn’t accidentally spit on a girl this time. Or even throw some poor guy through a glass window. But he did do something, sparking criticism throughout the sports world.

Barkley made some interesting remarks about racism in this week’s Sports Illustrated, he then appeared on the cover bare chested in a pair of gauzy pajama bottoms and a set of broken slave shackles attached to his wrists and neck – a move Barkley said he did “for effect” and to draw attention to the points he raised in the article.

Throughout his 16-year NBA career and his career as an analyst, Barkley has been a catalyst for the black athlete, but this time he went too far.

In the article, he speaks on many topics, the most controversial being Tiger Woods who Barkley insists is being wronged by the Augusta National Golf Club.

“Jack Nicklaus won the Masters six times, and he was hitting it past everybody else, and they never made a change,” said Barkley, speaking of the course changes implemented at the Masters – a tournament Woods has excelled at. “What they’re doing to Tiger is blatant racism.”

As true as Barkley’s comments may be (and I’m not saying they are or aren’t), they’re a walking contradiction when considering the cover shots he just had taken.

To put it into perspective, Barkley being pictured in shackles is much like it would be if a Jewish athlete were pictured in a concentration camp, or an athlete from Japan pictured in what they would have been wearing during World War II in an interment camp.

Barkley once said, as he rode off toward the vistors’ locker room at the First Union Center, “Just what American needs, one more unemployed black man.”

Normally the statement would have been considered racially derogatory, but because it was coming out of the mouth of Barkley, it was deemed as just another case of Charles being Charles.

Barkley’s mistake this time isn’t being taken as lightly.

The cover shot shows “a slave mentality there, maybe even the N-word,” said Kenny Smith, Barkley’s co-host of TNT’s NBA Studio Show.

And Smith on the cover headline, “Charles Unchained?”

“When were you ever chained?” he said to Barkley on TNT. “You’ve never been held back from expressing your opinions.”

Smith even went as far to say the cover shot “perpetuates racism.”

According to the article, Barkley ran the cover idea past several of his friends, including Michael Jordan. They all had the same response: No. Barkley still went through with it.

To be fair, some of the blame has to be put towards Sports Illustrated. They came up with the idea for the cover and put it into motion.

However, it was still Barkley’s choice in the end – a choice not thought out nearly enough.

He speaks about racism, but yet, he’s pictured as a slave on the cover of a nationally renowned magazine?

Barkley has never been shy about expressing his opinion – often times, he’s way off base. But this time, he actually said some things that held some truth.

“I’ve done some good things, some bad things, some stupid things, some funny things, but so has everybody else,” Barkley once said. “Mine have just been in the limelight.”

What better place to do something stupid than on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Emily Arthur is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Clark, S.D. She is the assistant sports editor of the Daily.