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Charles Barkley Tells Pence to ‘Shut the Hell Up’ on NBA-China Controversy

Former player Charles Barkley greets fans before a game in Auburn, Ala., in 2017. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

NBA commentator Charles Barkley fired at Mike Pence on Thursday night after the vice president strongly criticized the NBA’s intimate business relationship with China during a policy speech.

“First of all, Vice President Pence needs to shut the hell up,” Barkley said during an NBA pregame show on TNT. “All American companies are doing business in China. I thought the criticism of Commissioner Silver and LeBron James was unfair.”

“I don’t understand why these holier-than-thou politicians — if they’re so worried about China, then why don’t they stop all transactions with China?” he added.

Barkley’s tirade came as NBA commissioner Adam Silver sat two seats across from him, though Silver did not respond directly to Barkley’s comments.

Earlier on Thursday, Pence accused the league of acting like a “wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime” during a speech.

“Some of the NBA’s biggest players and owners, who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country, lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of the people of China,” Pence charged.

The vice president also lambasted “progressive corporate culture that willfully ignores the abuse of human rights” as “repressive.”

“When American corporations, professional sports, pro athletes embrace censorship, it’s not just wrong — it’s un-American. American corporations should stand up for American values, here at home, and around the world,” Pence said.

China fired back at the speech, calling Pence’s comments “arrogant.”

“The U.S. has already abandoned and cast aside its morality and credibility,” Chinese spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. “We hope these Americans can look at themselves in the mirror to fix their own problems and get their own house in order.” Barkley echoed the sentiments, saying it was “unfair” that the Trump administration was harping on the situation “to make the NBA and our players look bad.”

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