Two retired NBA powerhouses recently used their times in the spotlight—Charles Barkley hosting "Saturday Night Live" and Kobe Bryant receiving an Oscar—to respond to Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who had told another powerhouse, LeBron James, to "shut up and dribble" when he spoke out against Donald Trump.
Through scratchy black-and-white film, underscored by steady pounding, Barkley says, "Just because I dunk a basketball, doesn't mean I should raise your kids." The sheer conceit of what he said, coming as it did from a Nike spokesman paid to be a role model, caused an uproar.
Ever clever, the agency responded with a spot in which psychologist Joyce Brothers told Barkley that as a public figure he had to take some responsibility for his words.
Now "I am not a role model" speaks to just how much the league, its players and the culture have changed. Barkley has evolved and grown over time. He now supports James and other players who speak out about social justice.
And basketball players are also way bigger stars now than they ever were. These days, Barkley does commentary on TNT's "Inside the NBA" and seems to have one or two lines that go viral every night.
As his own person, with his unique informed banter, Barkley has managed to stay funny, honest and—most amazingly—relevant, whether you consider him a role model or not.