Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is known for his outspoken opinions, whether it’s about basketball or politics. During CBS’s broadcast of the Final Four on Saturday, he fired off a stinging critique of American politics, accusing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle or trying to “make the whites and Blacks not like each other” so they can stay in power.
His comments came after a pregame feature about Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 appearance in Indianapolis — site of this year’s Final Four — in which he informed the crowd that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. When asked for his reaction, Barkley placed much of the blame for racial tensions in the United States at the feet of politicians.
“I think most white people and Black people are great people. I really believe that in my heart,” Barkley said. “But I think our system is set up where our politicians, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, are designed to make us not like each other so they can keep their grasp of money and power. They divide and conquer.”
Barkley, an 11-time NBA All-Star who retired in 2000 after 16 seasons in the league, has occasionally dropped hints about running for political office — most notably governor of Alabama.
However, his political leanings have changed over the years, and he’s never been shy about criticizing both major parties, as he did on Saturday night.
“We’re so stupid following our politicians, whether they are Republicans or Democrats,” Barkley continued. “And their only job is, ‘Hey, let’s make these people not like each other. We don’t live in their neighborhoods. We all got money. Let’s make the whites and Blacks not like each other. Let’s make rich people and poor people not like each other. Let’s scramble the middle class.’ I truly believe that in my heart.”