TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley is apologizing for what he called a “joke” he directed at Axios campaign correspondent Alexi McCammond this week.
According to Sports Illustrated, the two were at an event in Atlanta where they were having an off-the-record conversation when Barkley told her that he supports former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who recently announced his 2020 presidential campaign. But she pointed out to him that he had a change of heart when speaking with an aide to South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg.
But his reply to her came off as a threat, and she was later moved to tweet about it.
McCammond, who covers the 2020 presidential campaign for Axios, then retweeted several examples of Barkley’s statements about women that have been criticized as sexist and misogynistic.
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“The first serious conversations about domestic abuse in sports were sparked in 1990 by Barkley’s comment about beating his wife,” pointed out journalist Timothy Burke. “A year later, he spat on an eight-year-old girl during a game. A year after that, Nike featured him in the famous “not a role model” ad.”
He also tweeted a newspaper clipping wher Barkley joked after his then-team the Philadelphia 76ers losing to the then-New Jersey Nets about going home to “beat your wife and kids.”
McCammond highlighted that Barkley’s comments underscored the need for awareness of violent incidents between partners.
“I hate being part of a story so here’s a reminder that this is so much bigger than me,” McCammond admitted, then noted “nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the US. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence.”
Since her tweet, McCammond has been the target of racist verbal attacks on social media and in her email, many of them blaming her for the incident. She pointed them out on Twitter.
“It’s not about me or my feelings — tho I’m grateful for the many friends who have reached out,” she continued. “But it’s about refusing to allow this culture to perpetuate because of silence on these issues. It’s easier and less awkward to be silent, but that helps NO ONE but the perpetrator.”
Wednesday, in a statement to Newsweek Barkley said: “My comment was inappropriate and unacceptable. It was an attempted joke that wasn’t funny at all. There’s no excuse for it and I apologize.”
It is unclear if Barkley will face discipline from TNT Networks.
This isn’t the first time Barkley, an NBA Hall of Famer, has been blasted for offensive comments. In 2014, he angered organizations that advocate for the obese when he described women in San Antonio, saying: “Some big ol’ women down there … that’s a gold mine for Weight Watchers.”
“Making slurs about body size is just as offensive as making comments about body color,” Peggy Howell, spokesperson for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance told TMZ Sports at the time.
But a similar incident happened earlier this year, when he insulted women during the Houston Rockets-Utah Jazz playoff game.
During the halftime show, an acrobat flipped a woman repeatedly to where Barkley chimed in: “I bet you can’t do that to the big ass women in San Antonio. You can do that to them little, skinny Houston women. You can’t do that to them big ole women in San Antonio.”
Fellow commentator Kenny Smith responded, “We’re not even in San Antonio.”
McCammond also issued an apology of her own for past tweets of hers that were dug up on social media that were deemed offensive to Asians, but have since been deleted.
Story credit to Blue Telusma/The Grio.