"We need 300 million shots, give a thousand to some NBA players, NFL players, hockey players," he said on TNT's Inside the NBA. "As much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment." Barkley doubled down after push back from Kenny Smith, who said, "We can't go there. I don't think you can go there."
Barkley's argument was that the amount of vaccines required for professional athletes wouldn't make a dent in the country's overall stockpile, and would help leagues complete their seasons. The NBA in particular has been mired in COVID-related setbacks in recent weeks. It certainly doesn't help that the vaccine rollout plan across the United States as been a disaster. So highly-paid athletes jumping to the front of the line likely wouldn't play well with most of the public, as evidenced by the online reaction to Barkley's comments.