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Charles Barkley weighs in on risks of social media for the modern athlete

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Charles Barkley last month took part in a panel discussion at South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas. Given that the panel was entitled, “How to Remain Relevant in Today’s Digital Age,” having Barkley, who is not active at all on social media and the like, head a discussion on such a topic is an odd choice. Then again, it’s not like lacking a thorough knowledge on a subject has ever prevented Barkley from espousing his opinions on it.

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch moderated the event and for the first time published excerpts from Sir Charles’ comments. Not surprisingly, Barkley’s comments were enlightening, and, as always, quite entertaining.

Speaking specifically to the sometimes tumultuous nature of social media, Barkley stressed that if he were a young athlete, he would simply steer clear of getting involved with Twitter and the like.

“I would say stay away but there is a never a right or wrong answer,” Barkley said. “No matter what you say half the people are going to agree with you and half the people are going to disagree with you … [s]o any young guy has to be careful with social media.”

Barkley conceded he is unlikely ever to join Twitter and used an example of how Kevin Durant engages with fans as a potential cautionary tale for how social media can be fraught with situations that can only come back to bite an athlete and almost make them look fooslish.

“Probably not. I saw Kevin Durant arguing with people not too long ago,” he said. “Kevin Durant is a great, great player and great guy. So some kid he played against in high school made a thing that he kicked all of these NBA guys’s butts in high school and he put KD in there. Meanwhile, this guy is like a plumber. So Kevin Durant and this guy are arguing with each other and I am reading this in a newspaper thinking, ‘Dude, you are Kevin Durant. Why are you arguing with a plumber? (There’s nothing wrong with being a plumber, I might add) but you are Kevin Durant!'”

It’s a shame Barkley is reluctant to join the world of social media. One can only imagine the kind of trouble he’d get himself in with his off-the-cuff, provocative and unfiltered commentary.