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Charles Barkley Tells Mike Pence To ‘Shut The Hell Up’ About NBA China Controversy

Former NBA superstar Charles Barkley can sometimes be a man of sense amid a firestorm of insanity; unfortunately, that time is not now.

Earlier this week, Vice President Mike Pence scolded the NBA for acting as a “wholly-owned subsidiary” to the communist nation of China by essentially censoring members of their own organization who dare to criticize the totalitarian regime.

“In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly-owned subsidiary of that authoritarian regime,” Pence said. “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 other peoples.”

In response, Charles Barkley told Mike Pence to “shut the hell up,” accusing him of being a “holier-than thou” politician.

“Vice President Pence needs to shut the hell up,” Barkley said on “Inside the NBA,” as reported by CNN. “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? 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. All American companies do business in China. Period.”

Barkley misses the point that nobody criticized the NBA for doing business in China and were simply outraged over the fact that the basketball organization would dare to stifle those who might criticize the regime in pursuit of a profit. In fairness, Americans reacted with near equal outrage when Disney CEO Bob Iger said this week that the company would remain silent on the Hong Kong protests, fearing it would hurt the company’s bottom line.

“What we learned in the last week — we’ve learned how complicated this is,” Iger said on Tuesday of this week. “The biggest learning from that is that caution is imperative. To take a position that could harm our company in some form would be a big mistake. I just don’t believe it’s something we should engage in in a public manner.”

When news broke that the movie “Top Gun” may have censored itself in order to appease China, both Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) were as equally critical of Hollywood as Mike Pence was of the NBA, so Barkley’s assertion that politicians have unfairly targeted his former employer is simply false.

The NBA became the center of national controversy after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey expressed support for Hong Kong-based pro-democracy protesters. Morey’s support angered China, which has a large NBA fanbase, prompting the NBA to immediately issue an apology for having offended Chinese sensibilities.

“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable,” the statement said. “While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has since defended the statement, insisting that the league was not specifically apologizing to the Chinese government.

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