Charles Barkley tried to contact Ozzie Guillen on Tuesday and Wednesday in an attempt to console the embattled Miami Marlins manager, who was suspended five games after his statements about Fidel Castro angered Miami's Cuban community.
"I tried to reach out to Ozzie yesterday, because when I got my DUI, or when I spit on the girl back in the '80s, hey man, when they're burning down your damn house, it's tough, man," Barkley said Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "It's tough when you really screw up and you can't watch TV or listen to the radio.
"Ozzie is going to get murdered for the next couple of weeks. [Fired Arkansas football coach Bobby] Petrino is going to get murdered for the next couple of weeks. Some are self-inflicted, mine were always self-inflicted, but I have to tell you something, as a person who's been in the limelight, when you're in it, it's a horrible feeling. I feel for both of those guys right now."
Guillen said in a magazine article that he loved Castro because he was able to stay in power for so long with so many enemies, and it drew an immediate response from the Marlins, Major League Baseball and the Cuban community in Miami, all of whom condemned the comments. Guillen held a news conference on Tuesday to apologize.
Barkley was unable to contact Guillen on Tuesday and tried again on Wednesday after his appearance on ESPN 1000.
"His voicemail was full," Barkley said. "One of my great friends is Rick Sutcliffe. I said, 'Hey, man, you got a number for Ozzie?' I just want to reach out to him and tell him to hang in there because things do get better. When I spit on that little girl back in New Jersey, I thought 'Oh my God, my life is going to end. I'm going to have to kill myself.' It gets better. Then I got the DUI, it was miserable ... I said 'Oh my God.'
"Everybody makes mistakes, unfortunately when you do them publicly, you get nailed to the cross, but you have to ride it out. I always tell people, the good thing about it is somebody else is going to screw up soon."
Barkley recognized what Guillen said was wrong and understands the reaction in the Cuban community.
"You have to be really careful when you talk about the Cuban situation in Miami," he said. "Obviously it's a hot-button issue. It was unfortunate.
"It's interesting when I sit back, all you can do is apologize. Some people are going to forgive you and some people [are] not. I always sit back and people are like, 'Was his apology sincere?' It's all you can do. Obviously he shouldn't have said that, and it's obviously a hot-button issue with the Cuban people down in Miami, but all he can do is apologize. It's always fascinating to me when you're in the limelight. People act like you can't make any mistakes. Everybody wants to play God, judge and jury. It drives me crazy. We all says things we probably shouldn't say, but all you can do is apologize. Sometimes you get caught up in the moment."