Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal agree: Protesting During the Anthem Does Nothing to Fix Problems

On Tuesday, the members of TNT’s Inside The NBA pregame show held a season opening conference call with the media. After being asked about how they think player protests and activism among players will be handled on and off the court this season, Awful Announcing posed an interesting question to former players Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal:

O’Neal said he would stand for the anthem.

“When you do it at a moment during the National Anthem — and I know people say it’s not about the flag — but when you do it in that moment, there’s a large majority of people that say you are disrespecting the flag and they won’t even listen to your conversation,” O’Neal said.

“When you give people a choice to listen or not to listen, they’re always going to go to the excuses,” he added.


The 15-time NBA All-Star, whose stepfather was an Army sergeant, stressed that when someone kneels during the anthem, people will immediately tune out because, “if you disrespect the flag, I’m not gonna listen to you.”

All of the analysts said the only way to go about protesting is in a peaceful and respectful way.

O’Neal said he would “try to do it much bigger” by holding large press conferences, like past icons of social activism.

“When I always look at the photos of Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, they held a press conference and they made their case known. I would do it like that,” O’Neal said. “Because when you do it like, respectfully, people have no choice but to listen.”

Barkley said one of the big problems with the anthem protests is they don’t accomplish anything.

“I’m sick of hearing about protests. It’s time for us to push some action,” Barkley said. “I’m proud of the NFL players for finally getting together with the owners today, talking about prison reform and things like that.

“We have spent so much time, worrying about who’s kneeling and who’s got the fist up, and we have not come up with solutions. So, I’m sick of hearing about the anthem protests… Everybody! We’re all in this together. It ain’t a black or white thing. It ain’t a cop against people. It’s all of us.

“Man, we gotta start putting our money where our mouth is.”

H/t The Wild Card