Charles Barkley never wanted to be a role model. The NBA Hall of Famer made that much clear in his 1993 Nike commercial where he famously said, “I am not a role model. I’m not paid to be a role model. I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models.”
He hasn’t been paid to “wreak havoc on the basketball court” since he retired in 2000, but given his penchant for gambling and excessive drinking, he didn’t much care to become a role model in his post-NBA career.
Now, he appears to be changing his mind. Having struggled with issues of his weight since he was a teenager, his giving him claim to the nickname “Round Mound of Rebound,” Barkley isnow a spokesperson for Weight Watchers and has slimmed down considerably his TNTcolleagues once celebrated his birthday with a cake made out of Krispy Kreme donuts.
WATCH CHARLES BARKLEY IN ONE OF THE WEIGHT WATCHERS ADS:
In new ads that premiered at the start of the NBA season this past weekend, Barkley says, “I am still not a role model. But maybe I can change that. Maybe if I tell you I’m losing weight and getting healthy, you’d see that you can too.” It’s a far cry from his days technical fouls and bar fights with no sense of responsibility.
Barkley doesn’t mention black men explicitly in the commercial, but as a well known and respected figure in the black community, Sir Charles, as he is sometimes called, sets an example for other black men who don’t typically receive an anti-obesity/pro-health message. It’s a different world from what is said of black women, whose bodies are often ruthlessly scrutinized and ridiculed, while black men’s large size is overlooked or at times celebrated.
As a community, we embrace nicknames for large black men such as “Round Mound of Rebound,” “Big Boy,” or “The Notorious B.I.G.,” while turning a blind eye to the potential health risks that come with an obesity epidemic.