Charles Barkley roasted Jussie Smollett on Thursday night after more details of the racist attack he is accused of staging emerged, taking particular pleasure in mocking the actor for allegedly writing a personal, backdated check to the men he paid to beat him.
Speaking during his half-time coverage of the Houston Rockets-Los Angeles Lakers game, Barkley had his co-commentators on TNT in stitches after bringing the controversial case up.
They were discussing unlikely scenarios on the basketball court when Barkley steered the conversation towards Smollett mischievously.
‘Two black guys beating a black guy up… Just thinking out loud,’ he said, drawing cackles from Shaquille O’Neill and Kenny Smith.
Charles Barkley (left on Thursday) mocked Jussie Smollett (shown right being bailed out of Cook County jail on Thursday) for allegedly paying his attackers with a personal check
He went on: ‘America, let me just tell you something. Do not commit crimes with checks.
‘If you’re gonna break the law, do not write a check. … Get cash, man!
‘I never use the ATM. Now, I heard you can only get 200 dollars … Gonna make a lot of stops at the ATM. … Do not write checks when you commit illegal activity.’
He also poked fun at Smollett’s claim that his attackers were Trump supporters, asking his co-hosts of the basketball players they were discussing: ‘What kind of hats they had on? MAGA hats?’
Smith was overcome with laughter.
‘I can’t believe you Chuck,’ he said through giggles.
Barkley then married Smollett’s controversy with that of Liam Neeson who came under global admonishment earlier this month after admitting that he once went out looking for a ‘black b*****d’ to beat up because a female friend had been raped by an African American man.
Barkley could not contain his amusement as he poked fun at the case during the half-time show
Barkley had his co-commentators, Shaquille O’Neill, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith in hysterics with his analysis
‘Jussie, you wasted all that damn time and money. You know what you shoulda did? Just went up to Liam Neeson’s neighborhood. You coulda solved all your damn problems,’ Barkley joked.
He also laughed over the fact that the brothers bought most of the equipment used in the attack from one store.
‘Buy the face mask, rope and the thing in the same store? You think they wrote out that on the receipt. Face mask, rope, bleach?
‘From the same store! They wouldn’t even go to three stores!’ he said.
Prosecutors say Smollett backdated a check for $3,500 to pay Abel and Ola Osundairo, two Nigerian brothers he knew who have both appeared on Empire as extras, to pretend to attack him on January 29.
Barkley’s show, Inside the NBA, mocked up the check Smollett allegedly paid them and addressed it to ‘MUGGERS’ with the memo ‘mugging supplies’ written on it.
Smollett is accused of paying brothers Ola (left) and Abel (right) with a backdated, $3500 check to attack him on January 29. They are shown in surveillance footage buying the items they allegedly used to beat him
Barkley’s show, Inside the NBA, mocked up the check Smollett allegedly paid them and addressed it to ‘MUGGERS’ with the memo ‘mugging supplies’ written on it
Jussie Smollett is shown in his mugshot on Thursday morning. The Empire actor handed himself in at 5am on charges of filing a false police report. Police now say he concocted the fake attack because he wanted a raise. Barkley joked that he should have gone to ‘Liam Neeson’s neighborhood’. Neeson, right, admitted earlier this month he once went out looking for a ‘black b*****d’ to beat up because a friend had been raped by a black man
His alleged motive was that he thought being the victim of a homophobic, racist ambush would raise his professional profile and get him a higher salary.
While the Empire actor strenuously denies the claims and has vowed to fight back, his career has begun crumbling around him.
The many celebrities who spoke out in support of him when the case gained attention last month have gone quiet and 20th Century Fox, the studio which owns Empire, is ‘considering its options’.
The case has inspired countless memes and jokes online, with Smollett, once a sympathetic victim with the world at his feet, now becoming the laughing stock of the internet.
Prosecutor Risa Lanier laid bare the allegations in a press conference after the bond hearing
Prosecutors went to extraordinary lengths to lay their case bare for the public on Thursday after his bond hearing.
They claim to have evidence of him with the brothers before the attack, including surveillance footage of them all together in the days beforehand, in Smollett’s car, plotting the stunt.
They also say phone records show the actor communicated with Abel on the night of the attack, afterwards and while the brothers were in Nigeria.
He is yet to offer an explanation for those allegations.
After being bonded out of jail last night, he went to the Empire set where he begged his cast mates to believe him, pleading: ‘I swear to God, I did not do this.’
His defense has shifted its focus from the media to the Chicago Police Department which he says handled his case poorly.
The department, which has in the past been shamed for its handling of racially charged cases, insists its investigation was above board.
A parody of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Nike campaign shows Smollett’s face with the words: ‘Fight back. Even if you paid them to jump you.’ The Nike slogan has been changed from ‘Just do it’ to ‘Jussie Do It’
Another meme shows Smollett’s face on a Lion King poster where the title has been edited to ‘Lyin King’. The two Nigerian brothers Smollett is accused of paying to assault him, Abel and Ola Osundairo, are featured in the bottom left corner of the meme
One Twitter user placed Smollett’s head over a popular meme of a boy pressing a boot into his own head while pretending to be the victim
‘Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system.
‘The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election.
‘The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election.
‘Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing,’ they said in statement.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel choked back tears as he addressed the case on television.
‘I’m upset about what he said about the city and how he used the city,’ Emanuel told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday night.
He accused Smollett of smearing Chicago as a city, but also placing doubt over genuine victims of hate and discrimination who will now fear coming forward because they might not be believed.
‘You have put all those real stories at risk for your fake story, and that is not right,’ Emanuel fumed.
Meanwhile the actor’s co-stars and colleagues on Empire are said to be at odds over the case.
Smollett went straight to the Cinespace studio on Thursday after being released on a $10,000 bond.
He reportedly pleaded with his colleagues to believe that he did not pay two Nigerian brothers to attack him in a staged hate crime so that he could get a raise, as is alleged by police.
Some of the stars are ‘f*****g furious’ about the allegations and believe he should be fired for bringing shame to the entire production, according to TMZ.
Smollett, shown top left, plays Jamal Lyon on the show. The cast is still filming the final episodes of its fifth season but he was sent home from the set on Thursday afternoon after apparently showing up straight from jail to protest his innocence. Producers reportedly told him to leave because it was so obvious he had been crying that he could not go on camera. Neither Terrence Howard (left) nor Taraji Henson (right) the show’s most famous stars, have commented since his arrest
Sidibe uploaded this image to her Instagram page on Wednesday. She deleted it on Thursday after the actor was arrested
Others, however, are standing by him and do not believe he is capable of concocting such an elaborate hoax.
The divide has led to ‘arguments’ on set, according to the sources.
20th Century Fox, which said it is ‘considering its options’ in light of the scandal, is yet to confirm if Smollett will continue to appear in the show.
He was sent home on Thursday without filming any scenes because it was so obvious that he had been crying, according to production sources.
Among the actors who appear to be walking back their support of him is Gabby Sidibe, Smollett’s one-time roommate and one of his closest friends.
On Wednesday, before he handed himself in to police, she uploaded an Instagram post with the caption: ‘I know him, I believe him, I stand with him.’
The post was a photograph of Malcolm X and a quote about the ‘irresponsible media’ which turns victims into villains and vice versa.
Sidibe had reposted it from one of Smollett’s siblings’ accounts.
The cast has not yet finished filming the final episodes of its fifth season. Smollett’s scenes have reportedly been cut back in light of the controversy.
He is paid $100,000 per episode of the show and there are 18 episodes in the current season which earns him a paycheck of $1.8million.
Key moments in reported attack on actor Jussie Smollett
January 29, 2019
Smollet is seen with a cut cheek on Jan. 29
Jussie Smollett tells Chicago police he was physically attacked by two men in downtown Chicago while walking home from getting food from a Subway restaurant at 2am.
The black and openly gay actor tells authorities the men used racial and homophobic slurs, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an ‘unknown substance’ on him.
Smollett told detectives that the attackers yelled he was in ‘MAGA country,’ an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign slogan, which some critics of Trump have claimed is a racist dog whistle.
Chicago police say they’ve reviewed hundreds of hours of surveillance camera footage, including of Smollett walking downtown, but none of the videos show the attack.
Police obtain and release images of two people they would like to question.
Reports of Smollett’s attack draw outrage and support on social media, including from U.S. Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren.
Both Booker and Harris called the incident a ‘modern day lynching’.
Joe Biden said: ‘We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts.’
Police released this image of ‘persons of interest’ taken near the reported attack
Trump tells reporters at the White House that he saw a story the night before about Smollett and that, ‘It doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.’
Smollett’s family issues a statement calling the attack a racial and homophobic hate crime.
Smollett’s family says he ‘has told the police everything’ and ‘his story has never changed,’ disputing assertions leveled on social media that he has been less than cooperative and changed his story.
Smollett issues a statement telling people that he is OK and thanking them for their support.
He says he is working with authorities and has been ‘100 percent factual and consistent on every level.’
Smollett gives sold-out concert in West Hollywood, California, opening with an emotional speech, saying he had to play the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win.
At the end of the set, he announces that he fought back against his attackers, calling himself ‘the gay Tupac’.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters is in attendance at the concert.
Smollet is seen performing on February 2, where he called himself ‘the gay Tupac’
February 5th: Chicago PD releases incident report which reveals Smollett did not want to call police. There is no mention of the MAGA country remark which he gave in a follow-up interview
Brandon Z. Moore, his manager, gives police a screenshot to prove their call.
February 11th: Smollett finally hands over redacted phone records to prove the phone call but police label them ‘insufficient’.
His neighbors say they don’t believe his version of events.
February 12th: Smollett’s rep releases statement to say he is the victim and that he has been telling the truth
February 14th: Good Morning America airs the full interview with Smollett, in which he blasts speculation that the attack was staged as itself racist and hateful.
Hours later, it emerges that two Nigerian brothers were picked up at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on their return from Nigeria the night before.
Cops identify the two men as the individuals seen in the surveillance images released from the night of January 29 but will not share their names.
Two television stations in Chicago simul report the widespread belief among investigators that Smollett staged the attack as a hate hoax.
Chicago’s police superintendent later said that he had no evidence to prove that the attack was a hoax.
Producers of ‘Empire’ dispute media reports that Smollett’s character was being written off the show.
High-powered criminal defense attorney Michael Monico reveals that he is representing Smollett.
Brothers Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola ‘Abel’ Osundairo, 25, were detained by police on February 13
Police logs show the items that cops seized from the Nigerian brothers’ Chicago home
DailyMail.com confirms they are brothers Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola ‘Abel’ Osundairo, 25.
Later, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielimi says the two ‘persons of interest’ are now considered suspects. He says the men are in custody but have not been charged with a crime.
Chicago police release two men without charges after arresting them on suspicion of assaulting Smollett and holding them for nearly 48 hours.
A police spokesman said the two are no longer considered suspects and that investigators have ‘new evidence’ to consider as a result of questioning them.
A police spokesman said that the investigation had ‘shifted’ after detectives questioned the two brothers about the attack and released them without charges.
Smollett hired Michael Cohen’s high-powered criminal defense attorney, Michael Monico, as the police investigation into the attack he reported last month took a sudden shift amid allegations of a hoax.
Smollett’s lawyers said on Saturday the actor felt ‘victimized by reports he played a role in the assault, and that Smollett would continue cooperating with police.
A police spokesman said that Chicago police have told Smollett’s attorneys they want to do a follow-up interview with the actor.
A spokesperson for Smollett’s lawyers said she couldn’t comment on whether Smollett had agreed to another interview.
This is the letter Smollett allegedly received at the Fox studio, a week before the January 29 incident. No photographs of it emerged until after the alleged attack. He reported the letter to the police when he received it along with Empire producer Dennis Hammer
Stars and politicians who spoke out in support of Smollett walk back their condemnation of the attack amid growing suspicion that it is a hate hoax
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the Smollett case
The Osundairo brothers speak with police and prosecutors in Chicago but are halted at the last minute before going to testify before a grand jury.
Smollett hires Colin Kaepernick’s attorney Mark Geragos and his legal team present a ‘hail Mary’ piece of evidence which stops the brothers’ testimony
State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx recuses herself from the case citing her ‘familiarity with potential witnesses’
Leaked information from the brothers’ meetings with prosecutors and police emerges. They reportedly claimed Smollett was involved in sending himself the letter on January 22
Fox says Smollett is not being written out of Empire contrary to reports and Smollett’s co-stars speak out in support of him.
Smollett in his February 21 mugshot
He is named as a suspect later in the afternoon and the brothers are seen entering grand jury offices at the courthouse.
Smollett is criminally charged with filing a false police report, a Class 4 felony which carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.
Smollett hands himself in to police at 5am. He is later charged with filing a false police report and posts $10,000 – ten percent of his $100,000 bond – and is released from jail.
The actor then releases a statement through his attorneys insisting he is innocent and claiming the prosecutors’ office ‘trampled’ on his presumption of innocence.