Charles Barkley's comments regarding whether or not 20 percent of NBA fans should be shot comes down to whether or not you think 20 percent of people should be taken "out back" (as Chuck puts it) and taken care of in the manner Charles suggests. You don't have to be an Illuminati to see the at 20 percent of the people you encounter between the time you leave the house and the time you come back to it with half a tank of gas and two grocery bags filled with eggs, turkey, dry cat food, a libation of some sort, and a bag of cilantro that YOU JUST KNOW IS GOING TO BE PAST EXPIRATION BY TOMORROW.
It all comes down to anger management, based on how many people you come into contact with during the course of the day. That doesn't just mean the kid that doesn't signal before turning right onto the street you're turning left out of, or the jerk that probably didn't listen to your mix CD, or the guy on the radio (host, caller; it often doesn't matter) that thinks Stephen Curry can be had for Jameer Nelson and "I don't know, a first-round pick." You can stay indoors all day, taking in website comments and tweets and Facebook missives and want 20 percent lopped off of any medium (right down to the album or podcast you're listening to) and not be wrong.
"Fans man. They love their team and their player. They don't want to hear any criticisms. They just want you to be 100 percent for their team period. I think it's only a small faction. I think 80 percent are great. Twenty percent, I wish you could take them out back and just shoot them.
"No. I meant that, Jim. Eighty percent of the fans are fantastic. But 20 percent of them are so mean-spirited and say the most nasty things to you, because they know you can't grab them."
Barkley, as a player, had to deal with this in nearly 30 other NBA stadiums a year as an NBA player, hearing invective from fans in every city but his own. Or even the cities he used to call his own. Or even cities he currently called "his own," after a few missed free throws.
And, as a full-time TNT analyst since the 2000-01 season, Barkley has no doubt gotten the same flack anyone who is lucky enough to comment on professional sports has gotten. Any bit of opinion about a certain team has to be bias at best and wrong at worst. You can talk up just about every facet of a certain squad, tossing out sincere compliments left and right, but if you get one tiny facet wrong (or, something positive that still flies in the face of a fandom's collective opinion) you're a bum. It is part of what we have to deal with, again, as people who are lucky enough to comment on these sorts of things for a living.
(Even if Chuck's living is more well-heeled than most.)
Even at the top of the mountain, though, the slings and arrows still hurt. And though Barkley isn't on Twitter or posting on websites or even taking calls on TNT or his various radio interviews, criticism will still get back to him, and it will still hurt. And anyone who's ever been hurt by someone else wants to … OK, maybe not shoot someone. But close.
Twenty percent of NBA fans shouldn't be shot. That's pretty safe to point out. Hopefully, soon, Barkley will realize this (he either pretended not to be or professed not to be speaking with tongue placed firmly in cheek during his interview with Rome). But perhaps 20 percent of NBA fans should take a step back and consider that valid opinions can come from sources that are, on the surface, merely disagreeing with them without the influence of bias on a subject that they care about very deeply.
Not that this hits home, or anything.
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- Charles Barkley