Charles Barkley hosted Saturday Night Live last night, and the outspoken NBA legend didn’t waste any time going after people in the media attacking athletes for voicing their political opinions. He specifically mentioned “this lady on Fox News that told LeBron James to ‘shut up and dribble’”—her name is Laura Ingraham, and she’s a veteran hard right talk radio charlatan who graduated into her own primetime show on Fox News last year. Ingraham’s a classic partisan hack attack dog in the Rush Limbaugh / Sean Hannity mold (so a perfect fit at Fox News), and a great example of the extreme rightward tilt that drove the once-proud Republican Barkley away from the GOP over the last decade. It’s not a surprise that the Round Mound of Rebound dunked on her, and with enough class and foresight to not even mention her by name.
Barkley’s message to athletes is simple: don’t be afraid of saying what you believe. “I’ve been saying whatever the hell I want for 30 years, and I’m doing great,” he says, half-jokingly. He goes on to discuss the political activism of Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown, two iconic black athletes whose actions and words helped spur positive change in America (although Brown’s tarnished that reputation by supporting Donald Trump in his idiotic feud with legitimate civil rights legend John Lewis). Ali and Brown wouldn’t have loomed as large as they have if it wasn’t for their political activism, just as Barkley wouldn’t be a major media celebrity almost two decades after retiring from basketball if he was afraid to speak his mind.
Check out the clip above, and keep an eye out for our review of last night’s SNL. Spoiler: it was definitely 90 minutes long, with commercials.