“Vice President Pence needs to shut the hell up,” Barkley said during a pregame broadcast on Thursday night.
Pence said the NBA was acting like a “wholly owned subsidiary” of China after the league failed to defend Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey for a tweet in defense of Hong Kong protesters, which triggered anger in Beijing.
Barkley, named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, said Morey can “say whatever he wants to” but added that “there are consequences.”
He didn’t elaborate, but after Morey’s comments, multiple Chinese companies suspended business ties with the Rockets. Among them: the Chinese Basketball Association, whose president is former Rockets great Yao Ming.
Barkley said “all American companies are doing business in China,” and if politicians felt so strongly about the country, they could take action:
“But I don’t understand why these holier-than-thou politicians, if they’re so worried about China, why don’t they stop all transactions with China?
“I think it’s unfair for them to do all their business in China and, just because this thing happened, try to make the NBA and our players look bad. All American companies do business in China. Period.”
Despite Pence’s comments, Trump has said very little himself about pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong beyond calling for a “humane solution.”
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