Charles Barkley Defends Matt Barnes' Use of Racial Slur

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2013

Jan. 24, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: TNT announcer Charles Barkley court side prior to the game between the Phoenix Suns against the Los Angeles Clippers at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Clippers 93-88. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A recent tweet from Matt Barnes that included the "N-word" was not well-received by the general public, but following a unique reaction from TNT analyst and Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, the Los Angeles Clippers forward might not be seen in such an unfavorable light. 

Barnes was ejected from the Clippers' 111-103 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday after getting into a shoving match with Thunder forward Serge Ibaka. The veteran showed his frustration in a since-deleted tweet that he sent out during the third quarter of the game.

Per Sean Highkin of USA Today, Barnes said that he was done defending his teammates, and referred to them using the "N-word." 

When the topic was presented to Barkley, he had a take on Barnes' racial remark a lot of individuals might not have considered.

Barnes clearly regretted his remarks, as he posted a lengthy apology to his teammates on Twitter the next day. Barkley, though, didn't feel that Barnes needed to take such measures.

"Matt Barnes, there is no apology needed," Barkley said.

Barkley then went on to explain that the use of the "N-word" is something that he is no stranger to.

“I’m a black man,” Barkley said. “I use the N-word. I'm going to continue to use the N-word with my black friends, with my white friends.”

When pressed by Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson about whether or not Barnes should have tweeted the racial slur, however, Barkley admitted that he shouldn't have made it public.

Despite that, Barkley seemed to take aim at the media for making Barnes' use of the "N-word" a topic of conversation. More specifically, he pointed the finger at white members of the media.

"White people, white reporters ... they don't have the courage to go into the locker room. That's why they're reporters."

Barkley then rationalized the language used by Barnes by saying that it was locker-room talk that shouldn't be taken personally.

What I do with my black friends is not up to white America to dictate to me. ... The language we use [in the locker room], sometimes it’s homophobic, sometimes it's sexist, and a lot of times it’s racist. We do that when we’re joking with our teammates, and it’s nothing personal.

Shaquille O'Neal supported Barkley's opinion on the matter, saying that when black people use the "N-word" to refer to each other, there is no negative connotation. 

That may be true for some, but Barnes' usage of the word came in the midst of a highly negative tirade on Twitter, so it's very difficult to say whether or not the line was crossed.

Barnes was fined $25,000 for failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection, along with the inappropriate language he used on Twitter, according to

Barkley may not have seen anything wrong with the way Barnes acted, but the NBA clearly did, so a precedent has been set with regard to what can and can't be said by players on social media.


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