The one-and-only Charles Barkley was a guest on The Dan Patrick Radio Show Tuesday and offered up some insight into just how common gay athletes are in professional sports, or at least in the NBA.
Asked by Patrick whether Barkley played with a gay teammate when he was in the league from 1984-2000, Barkley said, "yeah, of course I did" and then talked about what's discussed, or not discussed, in the confines of the locker room:
"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 that they're trying to pick up on their teammates. But everybody has played with a gay teammate... It's obviously discussed, privately, because the problem is, Dan, unless somebody tells you they're gay, you can't say a thing about them being gay. Ya know, 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."
Patrick then asked Barkley if he had any teammates who discussed coming out with him, to which Barkley offered up more details:
"I had several teammates, I probably had three guys I played with in my 16 years. But like I say, think about Jason Collins, he played on six teams, so six teams played with a gay guy. And so, everybody has played with a gay guy, you just didn't know he was a gay guy. Cause until a gay guy comes out, it's none of your business."
Barkley then goes on to cite a recent quote from former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, saying the night before Jason Collins came out via a Sports Illustrated article earlier this month, he never thought about who Collins "went to bed with." And the day after the article was published, he still didn't think about it.
The Atlantic published an article days later saying that Collins, in fact, is not the first player among the four major American sports -- NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL -- to come out and that it was actually Glenn Burke, formerly with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A's, who came out to his teammates in 1976.
Footage of the Dan Patrick Show with Barkley's comments can be seen below at the 10:12 mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=R5vjHv_en9k#at=589