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Charles Barkley says pro athletes should get preferential COVID-19 vaccine treatment

Charles Barkley

FILE – In this June 25, 2018, file photo Charles Barkley arrives for the NBA Awards at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. Barkley has issued an apology Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, for a comment he made to a female political reporter about hitting her. Axios reporter Alexi McCammond wrote on Twitter Tuesday night that when she questioned Barkley on his indecisiveness over the Democratic presidential hopefuls, Barkley told her “I don’t hit women but if I did I would hit you.” McCammond says when she objected to his remarks, Barkley told her she “couldn’t take a joke.” (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

TAMPA (WFLA) – Charles Barkley is drawing criticism online after saying that athletes should get preferential treatment in getting the COVID-19 vaccine strictly for financial reasons.

The NBA Hall of Famer spoke on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” about why he thinks professional athletes should get to essentially cut the line to get vaccinated as the nation currently prioritizes health care and essential workers as well as people 65 and older who are at higher risk for serious COVID-19 complications.

“We need 300 million shots … give a thousand to some NBA players, NFL players, hockey players,” Barkley said on the show. “As much taxes as these players pay — let me repeat that — as much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment.”

Fellow analyst Kenny Smith seemed stunned.

“For life and death?” Smith asked about the preferential treatment, to which Barkley replied, “Yes.”

Smith then tried to tell Barkley that taxes are based on how much money you make.

“I said taxes. I didn’t say the amount of money you make,” Barkley said. “I said the amount of taxes these guys pay.”

“We can’t go there,” Smith said. “I don’t think you can go there.”

Before the current season started, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN that the league would not be trying to get preferential treatment for its athletes to get the vaccine ahead of others.

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