A pair of former NBA stars-turned TV analysts have drawn the ire of basketball fans after they made comments about Breonna Taylor on the NBA ON TNT pregame show Thursday night.
Prior to Game 5 of the Western Conference NBA Finals, basketball icon Charles Barkley addressed people upset by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s announcement that just one officer involved, Brett Hankison, will be charged with wanton endangerment in Taylor’s case, CBS Philadelphia reports.
“You know, we have to take into account that her boyfriend did shoot at the cops and shot a cop,” Barkley said. “So like I say, even though I’m really sorry she lost her life I don’t think we can put this in the same situation as George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, I just don’t believe that.”
Charles Barkley gave racists a lifeline & defended Breonna Taylor's killers pic.twitter.com/vgw1g7OdhK
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) September 25, 2020
Fellow Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and co-host Shaquille O’Neal agreed with Barkley, suggesting that Taylor's case differs from other victims of police brutality because they didn’t premeditate her death, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I have to agree with Charles, this one is sort of lumped in,” O’Neal said. “You have to get a warrant signed and some states do allow no-knock warrants. And everyone was asking for murder charges. When you talk about murder, you have to show intent. A homicide occurred and we’re sorry a homicide occurred. When you have a warrant signed by the judge, you are doing your job, and I would imagine that you would fire back.”
Both analysts have faced backlash on social media for their comments, but many basketball fans are surprised to see Shaq finally agree with his counterpart on such a polarizing issue.
Maybe Charles needs to get all the facts on the case. Because I had the same opinion as he, when I only had half the facts.
— Damien Kelly (@DKFitnessStudio) September 25, 2020
Charles, officers that wasn’t in uniform kicked into their home and Breonna’s boyfriend was defending himself and protecting his home. Just like anybody would. He didn’t know they were cops. Still doesn’t justify that a innocent BLACK female was shot and killed.
— Captain Save A Hoe????????♂️ (@HoesLuvJoeDirt) September 25, 2020
One basketball fan asked that the two analysts get back to game coverage if they weren’t prepared with facts to discuss Taylor’s case.
I'm a huge fan of the NBA, but I don't like this conversation on Inside the NBA on TNT re: Breonna Taylor. Shaq is a policeman and Charles is extremely misinformed. I just want them to talk about basketball, seriously. Their conservative opinions are not helpful nor wanted.
— BSharise (@sharise_b) September 25, 2020
Sports reporter Jemele Hill tweeted in disagreement with the sports analysts.
“With all due respect to the TNT crew, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not present the full story in his public comments. He presented half-truths to shape a narrative. The police were careless and reckless and tried to cover their a**.”
With all due respect to the TNT crew, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not present the full story in his public comments. He presented half-truths to shape a narrative. The police were careless and reckless and tried to cover their ass https://t.co/AmSj4eZwnJ
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 25, 2020
During NBA On TNT, Barkley came against those pushing to defund law enforcement agencies and police departments.
“We have to really be careful on these, you know, I hear these fools on TV talking about ‘defund the police’ and things like that,” he said. “We need police reform and prison reform and things like that because you know who ain’t going to defund the cops? White neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods.”
Following the Lakers' victory over the Denver Nuggets Thursday, NBA superstar and social justice activist LeBron James expressed frustration with another instance of the justice system letting down the Black community but said he is committed to the fight for justice for the long haul.
"I know we lost a beautiful woman in Breonna. And we want justice no matter how long it takes," he began. "I’ve got a daughter of mine at home, and a wife and my mom. So many predominant Black women in my life, to think about if they weren’t here the next day, or if they were gunned down, it would be something I would never be able to forgive myself or forgive who did it."
If you would like to support Taylor’s memory in the fight against police brutality, head here to donate to the Louisville Community Bail Fund.