Unlike perhaps Phil Jackson, Charles Barkley was not surprised to learn that there has been at least one gay player in the NBA for the past 12 seasons. After veteran center Jason Collins came out last week in a first-person editorial in Sports Illustrated, Barkley expressed his public support as well as talked about his own experiences playing with gay teammates.
Just hours after Collins became the first active openly gay athlete in major U.S. team sports, Barkley said that "we've all played with gay players" during an installment of TNT's "Inside The NBA." A week later, Barkley was a guest on "The Dan Patrick Show" and he elaborated on his comments, noting that he's "probably had three or four guys" who he played during his 16-year NBA career who were gay.
"Yeah, of course I did," Barkley told Patrick on Tuesday after being asked if he ever played with a gay teammate. "Everybody did. Everybody played with a gay teammate, Dan, and it's no big deal. First of all, I think it's an insult to gay people to think they're trying to pick up on their teammates. But everybody's played with a gay teammate."
Prompted by Patrick, Barkley spoke about the difficulty in broaching the subject in the locker room, highlighting the courage it took Collins to come out.
"It's obviously discussed privately because the problem is, Dan, unless somebody tells you they're gay, you can't say anything about them being gay," Barkley said. "Until somebody has the courage, and I think it takes great courage to come out, it's kind of an unspoken word, to be honest with you."
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