Basketball analyst and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said Thursday that professional athletes should receive preferential treatment when it comes to administering COVID-19 vaccines.
On an episode of "Inside the NBA," Barkley cited the amount of taxes NBA, NFL and NHL players are required to pay as a reason for why he said they should be closer to the front of the line.
"Three hundred million shots, give a thousand to some NBA players, NFL players, hockey players," Barkley said. "Listen, as much taxes as these players pay, they deserve some preferential treatment."
Charles Barkley argues NBA and NHL players should get the COVID vaccine before others because they pay more in taxes:— The Recount (@therecount) January 15, 2021
“They deserve some preferential treatment.” pic.twitter.com/zF7BdWS1Z3
Kenny Smith, another analyst on the show, pushed back against Barkley's remarks by asking if players should get special treatment when it comes to "life or death."
"Yes," Barkley responded.
Smith went on to say that "the amount of money you make" shouldn't determine when someone receives the vaccine.
"I didn't say how much money you make. I said taxes," Barkley said.
"We can't go there," Smith said back to Barkley. "I don't think you can go there."
The progressive tax system in the U.S. means wealthier individuals are subject to higher tax rates. State tax codes also determine how much an individual pays in overall taxes each year.
Coronavirus vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer are already in distribution across the U.S., with priority access given largely to front-line workers, health care professionals and the elderly. States have set up tiered systems for distributing the vaccines.