During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday, DeGeneres took a moment to thank the former NBA star for being an LGBT+ advocate “long before many, many people,” referencing his decision to pull out of a 2017 NBA All-Star game in North Carolina because of the state’s controversial bathroom bill, HB2.
The bill, which was passed in March 2016, required “schools and public facilities containing single-gender washrooms to only allow people of the corresponding sex as listed on their birth certificate to use them”. It was later repealed in 2017.
“I have to say thank you, because you have been an advocate for LGBT rights for a long, long time,” DeGeneres said. “Long before many, many people.”
“Well I hated the bathroom bill, so I went to my boss and said: ‘Hey boss I’m gonna sit out of the All-Star game. I don’t want to take away from the All-Star game, but I’m gonna sit out the All-Star game,” Barkley recalled.
According to Barkley, his boss said he couldn’t let the “biggest star” sit out of the game, to which the basketball player said: “Well, I gotta make a stand against discrimination.”
Because of Barkley’s insistence, the NBA commissioner Adam Silver moved the game from Charlotte to New Orleans.
“It was a really nice gesture for the NBA,” the NBA Hall-of-Famer continued, adding: “I think in a time when you’re black, you got to stand up for other people.
“Black people know what discrimination is like. If you’re in a position of power, you got to always stand up against discrimination. I’ve been blessed man, and I’m never going to sit back and let discrimination happen on my watch.”
DeGeneres agreed with the former Houston Rockets player, adding: “That’s how I feel about any discrimination at all, any inequality. It’s like, for you to think that you somehow, they’ll never come after you for something, it’s just wrong.”
Barkley's continued dedication to fighting inequality comes as fellow former NBA player Dwyane Wade expressed the pride he feels in his 12-year-old child Zaya being a member of the LGBT+ community.