Charles Barkley has no qualms about making his opinion known -- particularly when it stirs the pot.
That's definitely the reaction stemming from Barkley's interview Wednesday night with CNN's Brooke Baldwin, in which he criticized protesters for calling for a police officer's indictment over the strangulation death of Eric Garner in New York City.
"I don't think that was a homicide," Barkley says in the interview. "I think the cops were trying to arrest him and they got a little aggressive"I think excessive force -- something like that -- but to go straight to murder?
"When the cops are trying to arrest you, if you fight back, things go wrong. I don't think they were trying to kill Mr. Garner. He was a big man and they were trying to get him down."
Barkley frequently chimes in on issues of race relations in America, and his comments have typically been met with harsh criticism, in part because he often criticizes his own African-American community.
But Barkley won't be bullied out of his opinions.
"The notion that white cops are out there just killing black people is ridiculous. It's flat-out ridiculous," he says. "I challenge any black person to make that point. Cops are absolutely awesome. They're the only thing in the ghetto [standing in the way of] this place being the wild, wild west."
The full interview is here:
Barkley previously made similar comments about the shooting death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In the face of public outrage that the involved officer was not indicted, Barkley insisted that the legal system made the right call.
In doing so, he continues to cast himself as a polarizing figure. Some admire him for his willingness to call things as he sees them, while others are adamant he just doesn't get it.