Also weary of the perception that a majority of straight male athletes are intensely homophobic, Barkley said gay players pose no problem, adding, “Man, we need to outlaw guys who suck at sports.”
“I really like ESPN,” Barkley added. “They do a great job. But like once every two or three months, they bring all these people on there, and they tell me how me and my team are going to respond to a gay guy.
“First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say, ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.”
And now Barkley, who played as masculine as any 6-foot-4 power forward in the history of playground or pro hoops, uttering the words, “It didn’t bother me,” saying he knew he had gay teammates.
“Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin’ idiot,” Barkley said. “I would even say the same thing in college. Every college player, every pro player in any sport has probably played with a gay person.
Barkley’s message: Don’t worry. Deal with it.
“They’re not going to do anything in the locker room,” he said. “Doesn’t work like that.”
Barkley added that he wished Welts, whom he knows well because he lives in Phoenix, the best in the fallout from his public revelation. He also explained his stance and feelings about the issue.
“First of all, society discriminates against gay people,” Barkley said. “They always try to make it like jocks discriminate against gay people. I’ve been a big proponent of gay marriage for a long time, because as a black person, I can’t be in for any form of discrimination at all.”
Talk about straight talk.
Meanwhile, if I had to pick the hockey player most likely to be at the fore for marriage equality, Rangers thug Sean Avery wouldn't top the list. But way to prove me wrong. And honestly, I should know better -- I was always tickled to note that the enforcer on my high school hockey team was arguably the smartest, most thoughtful member of it -- he ended up attending the London School of Economics. So there you go.