Charles Barkley: Public ‘More Homophobic Than Guys in the Locker Room’

February 20, 2014 - 1:12 PM

Charles Barkley

Emmy Award-winning TNT sports analyst and retired NBA player Charles Barkley (AP Photo)

( – Emmy Award-winning TNT sports analyst and retired NBA player Charles Barkley said Monday on CNN’s “Situation Room” that the public is “more homophobic than guys in the locker room.”

“I think the public at large is more homophobic than guys in the locker room. I think we as players get a bad rap,” said Barkley. “If you go back and look at that Michael Sam interview, he told his team over the summer. He never had an issue, and none of those players outed him on Instagram or Twitter or that other social crap.”

Sam, a defensive lineman for the University of Missouri, hopes to be the first openly gay NFL player. He came out publicly on Feb. 9 during an interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”

CNN host Wolf Blitzer asked Barkley how gay players who come out in the future will be received by teammates in the NBA.

“Well I think they’re gonna be safe with their teammates,” Barkley said. He predicted that the players would respect each other. “When you’re part of a team, there’s gonna be agreements and disagreements, but you should always have respect for each other.”

Barkley interviewed President Barack Obama, which aired on Sunday during the preview of the All-Star game. Blitzer asked why Barkley raised the issue of gay rights with the president.

“Well I think it’s important as a black man to always be inclusive. I’m always against any form of discrimination. I learned that from Bill Russell. As a black player, we always want to be inclusive, and we’ve all played with gay players,” Barkley said. “I think it’s an insult to gay people to think that they’re gonna be looking at their teammates in a sexual way.”

Barkley said he was “glad” that Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans to recognize same-sex marriages in federal legal matters like survivor benefits, bankruptcies, and prison visits. Gays deserve the same benefits as other couples, Barkley said.