Charles Barkley has pissed off a lot of people recently. Usually, Charles Barkley pisses people off when he says something critical of a player or a coach. But every time he does that, the majority of us have this sense of getting where he's coming from. Even if we don't agree with the comments, we respect them.
But this week Charles Barkley lost a lot of respect. He lost the respect of tons of black and white people across the globe after his horrific comments on the Ferguson, Missouri demonstrators who were protesting the Michael Brown ruling.
Barkley unashamedly labelled those protestors as "scumbags". But those protestors were not all on the same page. The vast majority of them were doing non-violent protests, something which Barkley didn't take into account.
Smith fires back at Barkley
As a result, Barkley has been heavily criticized by arguably one of the people most dearest to him. Kenny Smith, Barkley's co-host on TNT's 'Inside the NBA', has provided one of the most passionate responses to Barkley's comments, and his open letter is certainly worth a read.
Obviously we can't just drop in the whole of the open letter in this piece, but here's some of the best of it. Smith starts his open letter by calling Barkley the greatest power forward of all time and the most entertaining man in sports television.
- St. Louis Rams players make a stand for Ferguson and Michael Brown
- Lakers' Kobe Bryant denounces the Michael Brown ruling
- Rams' Michael Brown demonstrators deserve compassion not punishment
But the most interesting and thought provoking comments that come from Kenny Smith relate to his thoughts about how he understands how and why violent protestors get violent.
In contrast to Barkley, Smith gets why some of the poorest people in America lash out like the minority did in Ferguson, Missouri, over the disputed shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown by a police officer. And Smith certainly goes for the jugular when he likens the protestors anger to that of Barkley's, with the NBA legend well known for his anger spillages on the court during his career.
"That leads me to the looters and civilians burning buildings which you referred to as “scumbags”," Kenny Smith wrote.
"Here’s an analogy: If you put 100 people on an island with no food, no water, no hope of a ship coming, then some will overcome it and be resourceful, some will live in it, others will panic and others will show horrific character, which is wrong. But not to understand that all alternatives are possible is wrong as well.
Hitting Barkley where it hurts
"I was also disheartened to see the reaction of burning buildings and looters by some. However, when you are in “The Struggle” to not expect that that potential reaction is foolish on our part.
"The real issue is learning to positively manage your anger so you can be heard. It’s not that they are “scumbags”, their emotions won’t allow them to rationally think through their anger. I applaud that you have done a great job in your anger management in recent times … but not always."