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Charles Barkley blasts San Francisco during All-Star Game, describes it as city with ‘homeless crooks’

Charles Barkley leveled harsh criticism at the city of San Francisco during TNT’s NBA All-Star Game broadcast on Sunday. In a conversation with fellow basketball legend Reggie Miller, Barkley posed the question of whether Miller would prefer enduring the cold weather in Indianapolis, where Miller played his entire career, or “being around a bunch of homeless crooks in San Francisco.”

Barkley’s inflammatory comments immediately drew strong condemnation from Golden State Warriors superstar Draymond Green, who called Barkley “crazy” for his characterization of San Francisco and declared that Barkley was flat out “not welcome” in the city anymore due to his disparaging remarks. WNBA star Candace Parker also pushed back on Barkley’s stance, firmly stating “we love San Francisco,” but Barkley was undeterred in his criticism, doubling down that “No we don’t… You can’t even walk around down there.”

Green reacted with firm insistence that “Yes you can walk around” in San Francisco, but Barkley sarcastically shot back that you could only do so safely “with a bulletproof vest.”

The heated exchange touches on the well-documented issues with crime, drug abuse, and homelessness that came to a boiling point in San Francisco last year. Business owners in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood expressed grave concerns about their future viability last month, citing the fact that people simply “don’t feel safe” walking around the troubled district.

Back in November, one San Francisco resident visiting the area recounted that he was stunned by the shocking scenes of “ground zero” of the fentanyl crisis playing out on the streets in broad daylight – people openly smoking fentanyl and passed out near children’s playgrounds, all located just blocks from the mayor’s office. “It’s unbelievable to me that a city and country with such immense wealth can have such blatant poverty and suffering,” the resident lamented.

In response to the surging criticism, San Francisco officials tried to change the narrative in January by touting statistics that crime rates were at “lower than any period in the last ten years” except for 2020. The city claimed an overall 7% decrease in crime from 2022 to 2023 and a 13% drop from 2019. However, local reports dug into the data and found that motor vehicle theft was actually up significantly from 2022 to 2023, with 6,571 reported thefts compared to 6,222 the prior year. Robberies also ticked up in 2023 versus 2022.

“Our work around public safety is making a difference, but we’ve got more work to do,” Mayor London Breed conceded last month while thanking law enforcement for their efforts. However, Charles Barkley’s cutting criticism this week lays bare the lingering divides and indicates the debates around crime, wealth disparity, and homelessness in San Francisco remain unresolved despite officials’ assurances. The heated pushback from Green and others shows Barkley touched a nerve – underscoring the complex challenges still facing the city amid calls for additional action.