When Jared Max, of ESPN 1050 radio in New York City, started his show on Thursday morning he assumed it would go much like most of the other days in his long radio career. That was until he was inspired by Charles Barkley’s comments on The Mike Wise Show with Holden Kushner here on 106.7 The Fan.
The previous afternoon, Max read about Barkley’s comments on homosexuality in the NBA to Mike and Holden. During the interview, Barkley was supportive of his teammates during his playing days that he knew were gay. “I didn’t think it. They were gay,” he said.
Barkley went on to say no matter what, he and his teammates always supported one another, and that included his teammates that he said he knew were gay. “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,” he said.
Barkley’s comments came up that morning on Max’s show when discussing the ridiculousness of homophobia in sports.
It was then that Max decided enough was enough, and it was time to come out to his audience that in fact he was gay.
During his final segment of his show, Max said, “Are we ready to get our sports information from someone who is gay? Well, we are about to find out. For the last 16 years, I’ve been living a free life among my close friends and family and I’ve hidden behind what is a gargantuan-sized secret here in the sports’ world. I am gay.”
Max’s decision was also inspired by the coming out of Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts, former Villanova star Will Sheridan and CNN anchor Don Lemon. “There seems to be a snowball effect taking place in sports, maybe this will be big enough to start breaking down some walls,” he said.
The courageous move by Max didn’t come easy, but he knew the time was right. “I didn’t decide that I was going to do it until 30 seconds before I was going to do it,” Max told Deadspin.com. “I had other material I could have finished my show with, but I just said, ‘Go.'”
Max was previously the sports director for CBS Radio station WCBS 880 in New York City.