Political reporter says NBA legend Charles Barkley threatened her

Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond said via Twitter that “Inside the NBA” host Charles Barkley threatened her when she asked the Hall of Fame former player about the 2020 presidential race.

According to McCammond, Barkley responded, “I don’t hit women but if I did I would hit you,” when she asked about his political support for former Massachusetts governor and newly announced Democratic presidential candidate Deval Patrick after previously backing South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg in July.

When McCammond objected, Barkley said she “couldn’t take a joke,” according to the reporter. She alleged that the comments were made in an off-the-record conversation in advance of Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta, but she opted to make them public because “this is not OK.”

McCammond said that, despite reservations about becoming part of this story, she felt obligated to share Barkley’s alleged threat, citing a 2014 U.S. Department of Justice report that concluded one in four women and one in nine men “experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.”

“It’s not about me or my feelings — [though] I’m grateful for the many friends who have reached out,” McCammond tweeted. “But it’s about refusing to allow this culture to perpetuate because of silence on these issues. It’s easier and less awkward to be silent, but that helps NO ONE but the perpetrator.

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Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan through the years
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Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan through the years
CHICAGO - 1988: The Eastern Conference All-Star team (top row, l to r) Mike Fratello, Brian Hill, Brendan Malone, Maurice Cheeks, Charles Barkley, Brad Daughtery, Kevin McHale, Patrick Ewing, Doc Rivers, Danny Ainge, Don Chaney. (seated l to r) Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Moses Malone, Dominique Wilkins, and Larry Bird poses for a team photo during the 1988 NBA All-Star Weekend at Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois. 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. Copyright 1988 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - 1992: (L-R) Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan and David Robinson of the United States National Team take a rest on the sideline during practice in the1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges 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 1992 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 1992: Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls, Agent David Falk and Charles Barkley of the Philadelphia 76ers pose for a photo in 1992 in Los Angeles, California. 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 1992 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 9: Charles Barkley #32 and Michael Jordan #23 look on during the 1992 NBA All-Star Game at Orlando Arena on February 9, 1992 in Orlando, Florida. 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 1992 NBAE (Photo by Jon Soohoo/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHICAGO - JUNE 13: Charles Barkley #34 of the Phoenix Suns and Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls during Game Three of the 1993 NBA Championsip Finals at Chicago Stadium on June 13, 1993 in Chicago, Illinois. The Suns won 129-121 in triple overtime, making the Series 1-2 in favor of the Bulls. 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 1993 NBAE. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - JUNE 18: Charles Barkely #34 of the Phoenix Suns chats with Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the 1993 NBA Finals on June 18, 1993 at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois. The Suns won 108-98. 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 1993 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOENIX - OCTOBER 30: Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls, far left, and Charles Barkley #34 of the Phoenix Suns, far right, talk during a break in an NBA game on October 30, 1994 at America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. 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 1994 NBAE (Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 28: Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley (34) laughs at a foul call with Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan (23) in the first half 28 January 1996 at the United Center in Chicago. The Bulls won 93-82. Jordan scored 31 points, and Barkley scored 20 with 16 rebounds. (Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan (R), of the East All-Stars and Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley, of the West All-Stars, embrace before the start of the NBA All-Star game in San Antonio, Texas February 11
Michael Jordan & Charles Barkley during Michael Jordan Celebrity Golf Invitational at Ocean Club Golf Course in Paradise Island, Bahamas. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Basketball stars Michael Jordan (L) and Charles Barkley wait to tee off from the 14th tee during the Pro-Am match of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in La Quinta, January 20. Jordan retired from basketball last week after six championships with the Chicago Bulls. SSM/SV/WS
Members of the 1992 United States Olympic "Dream Team" pose for a photograph after that team was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame during enshrinement ceremonies in Springfield, Massachusetts August 13, 2010. The players are: (front row L-R) John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullen; (middle row L-R) Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone; (back row L-R) Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Christian Laettner. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
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“I encourage you to consider how you’d respond if a friend said something similar to what Barkley said tonight,” she added on Tuesday. “And then challenge yourself to ask the same of yourself if a stranger (or ‘celebrity’) said that. I hope the answers are the same. Everyone should be held accountable.”

A number of people weighed in on Twitter with examples of Barkley’s past incidents involving females. The 56-year-old made a similar attempt at a joke in a 1990 postgame press conference, when he told reporters, “This is a game that if you lose, you go home and beat your wife and kids. Did you see my wife jumping up and down at the end of the game? That’s because she knew I wasn’t going to beat her.”

He later apologized for those comments almost 30 years ago.

In 1991, Barkley spit at a heckling fan who allegedly made racist remarks toward him, inadvertently hitting an 8-year-old girl. He reportedly befriended the family, who served as his guest at future games.

At the tail end of his playing career in 1997, Barkley openly opposed both women serving as NBA commentators and the league’s hiring of female referees. He has since also apologized for those takes.

As a commentator, Barkley has likened the Golden State Warriors’ playing style to “girly basketball” and derided the women of San Antonio. Barkley currently works for Turner Sports, which is based in Atlanta.

Turner Sports released a statement on behalf of Barkley on Wednesday morning, in which Barkley apologized for his comments to McCammond.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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