Charles Barkley: Kyrie Irving is 'one of the most miserable people I’ve ever seen'

On Friday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the topic of anxiety and depression among NBA players at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston.

Players like Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan have openly discussed their mental health struggles, helping break a long-standing taboo in sports around psychological issues.

Silver: Social media plays role in mental health

Silver suggested that social media was a potential culprit for mental health struggles, noting that a lot of players he’s met are “truly unhappy.”

“Part of it is a direct product of social media,” Silver said. “I think those players we’re talking about — when I meet with them, what strikes me is that they’re truly unhappy.”

Barkley: Silver’s comments stupid

Charles Barkley made an appearance on ESPN Wednesday morning, and when asked about Silver’s statement, he gave a nuanced response respectful of the mental health struggles of others.

Nah, just kidding. He blasted Silver for suggesting that people who have money and success aren’t immune to mental health problems.

“I think that’s probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard Adam say,” Barkley said. “Listen, he’s a great guy. But that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard any commissioner say.

“These guys are making 20, 30 40 million dollars a year. They work six, seven months a year. We stay at the best hotels in the world. They ain’t got no problems. That’s total bogus.”

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Kyrie Irving through his career
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Kyrie Irving through his career
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 1: Kyrie Irving poses for a portrait after getting introduced as Boston Celtics on September 1, 2017 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Duke Blue Devils guard Kyrie Irving (1) shoots against the Hampton Pirates during their second round NCAA men's basketball game in Charlotte, North Carolina March 18, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Kyrie Irving stands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, New Jersey, June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) reacts to making a three point basket in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge game during the NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando, Florida, February 24, 2012. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Cleveland Cavaliers' rookie Kyrie Irving (R) dribbles around Boston Celtics' defender Avery Bradley during the second quarter of their NBA basketball game in Cleveland January 31, 2012. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Kyrie Irving (C) smiles during the U.S. Olympic basketball team practice at UNLV's Mendenhall Center in Las Vegas, Nevada July 6, 2012. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Sam Morris (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL OLYMPICS)
Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving brings the ball up court against the New York Knicks in the second quarter of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York December 15, 2012. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
East All-Star Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers competes in the three-point contest during the NBA basketball All-Star weekend in Houston, Texas, February 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
NBA All-Star LeBron James of the Miami Heat (6) and teammates Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks (7,) Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers look up at the clock in the fourth quarter of the NBA All-Star basketball game in Houston, Texas, February 17, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Dec 10, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives against New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton (2) in the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
January 16, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) moves the ball up court against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Kyrie Irving of the U.S. (L) goes up for a basket past Slovenia's Edo Muric during their Basketball World Cup quarter-final game in Barcelona September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Dec 2, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (right) and guard Kyrie Irving (2) react in the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) shoots as Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison (7) defends during the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 24, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) attempts a shot against Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) during the second quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates with guard Kyrie Irving (2) after a 106-101 win over the Chicago Bulls in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA guard Kyrie Irving takes a shot during the USA men's basketball national team minicamp at Mendenhall Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) and guard Mario Chalmers (6) celebrate after Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) missed a game-tying basket as time expired at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
June 1, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) addresses the media in a press conference during NBA Finals media day at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
June 2, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) shoots against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first half in game two of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and guard Kyrie Irving (2) look during a press conference after game four of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena. The Warriors won 108-97. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love, JR Smith and Tristan Thompson arrive home to a welcome party in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
2016 Rio Olympics - Basketball - Main Press Centre - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 04/08/2016. Kyrie Irving (USA) of the U.S. attends a news conference. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
2016 Rio Olympics - Basketball - Quarterfinal - Men's Quarterfinal USA v Argentina - Carioca Arena 1 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 17/8/2016. Kyrie Irving (USA) of the USA and Facundo Campazzo (ARG) of Argentina compete. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Feb 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Western Conference forward Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors (35), Eastern Conference forward Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers (2) and Western Conference guard Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (30) talk in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives against Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 25, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) reacts after a play during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Quicken Loans Arena. The Wizards won 127-115. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 1: Kyrie Irving talks to the media as he gets introduced as Boston Celtics on September 1, 2017 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 28: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics looks on during the game against the Houston Rockets on December 28, 2017 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 20: Kyrie Irving #11 and Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics talk during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 20, 2018 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 15: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics looks on in the second half of Game Two of the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on May 15, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Barkley doesn’t know what he’s talking about

Those, of course, are the words of a person ignorant on the topic of mental health. Success and money obviously take care of a large swath of life’s potential pitfalls. But no amount of cash, of course, can thwart brain chemistry issues that plague so many people around the world beyond the ability to spend that money on treatment.

Silver’s suggestion that social media plays a role in players’ anxiety is a topic relevant to almost everyone. Social media plays an outsized role in modern life and provides a source of addiction and mental strife for many prone to problems to begin with.

Barkley’s words on the topic are insensitive at best and dangerous at worst.

Barkley takes on ‘miserable’ Kyrie Irving

Barkley went on to target one player in particular, Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving.

“Kyrie Irving,” Barkley said. “I don’t know him that well. He seems like a good kid. But I’ve never seen a person so miserable. To have so much success. To have the world in the palm of his hands.

“He’s gonna make 40, 50 million dollars a year for the next 10, 15 years. He’s already won a world championship. He’s in the movies. But he’s got to be one of the most miserable people I’ve ever seen.”

Irving has certainly opened himself up to legitimate criticism with his flat-earth statements and career decisions that he himself is now indirectly questioning in public.

Barkley out of line

But for Barkley to attack him on those fronts in the context of mental health is out of bounds.

Barkley is a smart guy with a lot of interesting things to say. Except when he’s not.

Sometimes he should keep his mouth firmly shut on topics he’s not educated on.

This is one of those times.

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