Charles Barkley has said a lot of outrageous things in his lifetime. This time, he may have taken it too far.
Barkley has been accused of AXIOS reporter Alexi McCammond that he would hit her. The statement was clearly a joke — even the reporter admitted the line was meant in jest — but that hasn’t stopped outraged fans from slamming the NBA Hall of Famer and calling for him to step down from his high-profile job as a basketball analyst.
Alexi McCammond revealed the exchange on Twitter in what was an “off-the-record” conversation with Barkley. As she tells it, they were discussing the 2020 presidential election and specifically the qualifications of candidates Deval Patrick and Pete Buttigieg. Then, the talk took a dark turn.
Per McCammond: “Just FYI Charles Barkley told me tonight ‘I don’t hit women but if I did I would hit you,’ and then when I objected to that he told me I ‘couldn’t take a joke,'” McCammond tweeted Tuesday night. “There are almost no times I will break an OTR [off the record] ‘agreement’ but this is not OK.”
McCammon has since been defending her stance on Twitter and turned it into a larger debate about domestic abuse in the United States. She reminded everyone that “20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the US” and “It’s not about me or my feelings.” Shortly after, McCammond plugged an upcoming appearance on MSNBC.
In a follow-up tweet from Turner Sports PR, Barkley reportedly issued an apology for his comments.
NBA Legend Previously Criticized NFL’s Domestic Abuse Policy
Charles Barkley might have a track record of saying outrageous things, but he did criticize the way the NFL handles domestic abuse. In 2014, he called for both the NBA and NFL to have more strict policy regarding sexual assault.
Barkley made it clear: the first time you hit a woman, you get suspended. The second time? You are banned for life.
“The second time you put your hands on a woman, your ass is never playing in the NFL again,” Barkley said, via Sports Illustrated. “And in the NBA, too. It’s a joke, to be honest with you.”
Charles Barkley’s Long History of Controversial Commentary
Charles Barkley is no stranger to controversy. He has always embraced it.
Remember, Barkley made waves in 1993 when he appeared in a Nike commercial and boldly proclaimed: “I’m not a role model.” The black-and-white ad received severe backlash and aired two years after the NBA superstar had been suspended by the league for trying to spit at a racist heckler. Unfortunately, the loogie landed on an eight-year-old girl sitting nearby.
Times were different back then and athletes could seemingly say or do no wrong. In 1991, Barkley joked about beating his wife in a newspaper article and it was washed under the rug as another shocking quote from one of the game’s most outspoken athletes.
“This is a game, that if you lose, you go home and beat your wife and kids,” Barkley said. “Did you see my wife jumping up and down at the end of the game? That’s because she knew I wasn’t going to beat her.”
Again, everyone knew Barkley was joking. He was actually channeling a similar joke that former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno first made in 1991. Still, it’s a telling reminder about choosing your words wisely.
The Infamous Bar Fight That Happened in Orlando
There was one more glaring incident involving the “Round Mound of Rebound” that often gets added to his resume. In 1997, Barkley was accused of throwing a man through a window at a bar in Orlando.
According to eye-witness accounts, Barkley had tried to avoid confrontation until the man started shouting curse words and threw a glass in his direction and toward a woman. The glass nailed the woman in the chin and she fell off her chair causing Barkley to spring into action.
Barkley wrestled the man from the grasp of a police officer and proceeded to beat him up, according to the Sun-Sentinel. He was arrested and charged with aggravated battery and resisting arrest without violence. Barkley was later released on bail for $6,000 when Houston Rockets teammate Clyde Drexler picked him up at the county jail.
Predictably, the NBA star offered no apologies. He claimed the man got what he deserved.
“What he did was inappropriate. I’m going to defend myself,” Barkley told the Sun-Sentinel. “Let there be no debate. If you bother me, I’m going to whip your ass.”