Basketball legend and NBA on TNT analyst Charles Barkley apologized Wednesday after telling a reporter he would hit her during a conversation about which Democratic candidate he supports. Alexi McCammond, who is covering the 2020 presidential election for Axios, tweeted about the exchange Tuesday evening.
McCammond was having an off-the-record conversation, typically used by journalists to gather information, at an undisclosed event with Barkley when he told her about his support for former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who recently launched his campaign. She then brought up that he changed his answer when he spoke with a Pete Buttigieg aide, saying he “loved” Buttigieg.
His reply prompted her to tweet: “Just FYI Charles Barkley told me tonight ‘I don’t hit women but if I did I would hit you,’ and then when I objected to that he told me I ‘couldn’t take a joke.'”
“I hate being part of a story so here’s a reminder that this is so much bigger than me: nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the US. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence,” she wrote, citing data from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Barkley said in statement to CBS News that his comment was “inappropriate and unacceptable.” “It was an attempted joke that wasn’t funny at all,” he added. “There’s no excuse for it and I apologize.”
McCammond responded to the statement on Twitter, saying “Threats of violence are not a joke.” “Silence only allows the culture of misogyny to fester,” she wrote. “And those kinds of comments don’t merit off-the-record protections.”
It’s not the first time Barkley has made a similar comment poking fun of domestic violence. As a player for the Philadelphia 76ers, he apologized for post-game comments after receiving backlash from women’s groups in 1990, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
“This is a game that if you lose, you go home and beat your wife and kids,” Barkley said then. “Did you see my wife jumping up and down at the end of the game? That’s because she knew I wasn’t going to beat her.”