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Add Barkley to list of people slamming Bryant Gumbel

Oct 20, 2011, 4:17 PM EDT

Bryant Gumbel did what he set out to do — he got people talking about labor relations in the NBA. People are talking about David Stern and how the owners treat the players.

Although, many people are just focusing on Gumbel’s “plantation overseer” comment more than the substance of his thoughts. (Henry Abbott did a great breakdown at TrueHoop.) And with that has come backlash on Gumbel.

That includes Charles Barkley, speaking on the Dan Patrick Show (via

For those who would like to read the comments and not listen to Barkley’s voice, here you go:

“I thought (Gumbel’s comments) were stupid. First of all it’s disrespectful to black people that went through slavery while guys are averaging five million dollars a year, that’s just disrespectful. When David Stern took over, I went and did my research because I knew people would make a big deal out of it, when Davis Stern took over the NBA in 1984 which was my first year the average salary was 315,000 dollars. That was the average salary. The average salary now is 5.15 million dollars. When has he been holding people back from making money? Secondly David Stern works for the owners and his job is to make sure the owners have a fair deal. I like Bryant and I like that show a lot but the commissioner works for the owners. He’s just trying to get a fair deal for the owners. It’s disrespectful to black people. I don’t think slaves are making 5.1 million dollars a year.”

Clearly, NBA players are not slaves (they can leave their jobs, for one). That said, more than one NBA player has used similar imagery when speaking to me off the record about the lockout — guys see themselves as working for rich guys and now those owners are trying to take more than their fair share. Yes, the financial sums are pretty crazy, but when people feel a deal is unfair they won’t support it. That is a lot of what has gone on here.

  1. first2bomb - Oct 20, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Why is Charles Barkley still getting press?


    How do you make a slave reference about BLACK people whose average salary today is 5.15 million???


    Goes to show how classless retired NBA players are as well as current players…

    That’s why college basketball is superior to professional… In my opinion…

    This article and the lockout is plain garbage… Rich men crying for more money…

    Take your mic and ball and go home…

  2. worldbfree4me - Oct 20, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    So, what Chuck is saying is when people of Color were slaves and they did not make a dime, they should be happy today that are making something? Not, it’s the principal of the entire framework of the negotiation. Chuck may not believe this, and hell the players may be oblivious to the fact that they do not need the NBA or the Union for that matter. They could go out and start their own league tomorrow here or abroad and be owner operators. And in a year or two with organization and management be profitable beyond their wildest dreams. That probably will not happen anytime soon, but that is entirely possible. Bottom line is, the fans always get the raw deal, but yet they keep coming back for more.

    • borderline1988 - Oct 23, 2011 at 8:43 AM

      I’m not sure I understood where you went with your post, but I believe you somehow have the idiocy to back Gumbel.
      Barkley is 100% correct. These players are among the top income earners in the world, and to compare themselves to slaves is revolting and insulting to people all over the world, let alone the realy black slaves of years past.

      I have never in my life heard of a business where the employees have bargained to earn a split on the net profit (especially where they earn more than the owners). Partners should share in business risk; these players don’t. Comparing the average NBA player to a slave is like saying Lebron is the worst basketball player in the world. It’s just stupid and ridculous.

      That being said, it’s funny that the players would take this approach, b/c for all their media campaigning, this slave-mentality attitude makes them look horrible in the public’s eyes. So bring it on!

  3. 140chrviolation - Oct 20, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    So, you spoke to players who agree with Gumble and that makes it okay for him to say it, too? There are lots of ignorant and self-involved people in the world. Some of them speak on TV and others play basketball.

    My grandparents were slaves. To get from their labor what the NBA player gets would have exploded their brains in the middle of the munitions factory they were forced to work in under the eyes of their Nazi overlords and the owners of the factories. That is, of course, so long as the guards didn’t arbitrarily explode their brains beforehand.

    If you work for someone then you probably work for a very rich person. They are, at the very least, in a high socio-economic situation then you are. This does not make you a slave and them a master. That I have to write that down on a forum is rather disturbing all on it’s own.

    Other NBA players can decide to do what Josh Childress did and try and hook on with a team in other leagues. I would hate to see this happen but the players have freedom. That is something slaves, by definition, does not have. NBA players get paid for their labor. By definition, slaves do not. Plenty of bosses try and squeeze the most out of their employees that they possibly can and very few of us get paid as handsomely or draw the fringe benefits of NBA players. The only thing NBA owners have in common with slaves owners that used to be a fixture of the US, is that both own things. As a matter of fact, David Stern, like the players, is an employee of the owners.

    The problem with players is they don’t comprehend is that they play a game. They are entertainment. I obviously love the work they do, and they are generally very hard working people, but the wealth they generate is predicated on the work of thousands and thousands of other workers. If the NBA didn’t spend money to paste the players’ faces all over the world, nobody would know who they were nor would we care. The NBA made it possible for players to have shoe deals in China. Judging from the interest folk have in the various charity games, the players have no way to make anything like the same amount of money in any venue besides the NBA. That is the reality of the situation. The players’ sense of importance revolts against the idea that they can’t quite raise themselves up to the owners’ sphere of power and influence without doing what the owners have done, create wealth and offer employment in other venues and/or fields besides entertainment.

    Every single one of us comes to the limits of our power, even the owners. I am sure it is difficult to come to this limit in the public eye, be it as a player when they lose important games, or as an employee, when in conflict with ownership. I fully support the players having a union and earning what they can, but there is no such thing as a fair deal. A fair deal is only defined by what balance the players will achieve in discussion with the owners. If the players could strong arm the owners into a 60-40 split they would do it. They cannot, and that does not make David Stern a slave owner.

  4. 140chrviolation - Oct 20, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Sorry, lots of typos. I would understand if anyone thought they detracted from the points I was making. Hopefully they won’t.

    • philtration - Oct 20, 2011 at 9:53 PM

      Don’t worry about it.
      I am sure that most people did not read all of that.

      By the way… where were your grandparents slaves?

  5. first2bomb - Oct 20, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    I read this out of content first time hence the previous post…

    This lockout regardless is garbage… As well as the NFL lockout that just past… All parties involved should be shot…PERIOD..

  6. lolo20msu - Oct 20, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    ^ great post

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