Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Wit and Wisdom* of Charles Barkley: Part III

*in this case it's mostly wisdom

by Russ Bengtson

Here's Part I and Part II. Um, and this.

You all have heard Charles Barkley speak before, I'm sure. He's outrageous, outspoken, and (sometimes) out of his mind. He says "first of all" way too much, and when he believes strongly about something he'll repeat it over and over and over again.

But there's another side to him as well―one who cares very much about the well-being of kids he sees growing up just like he did. Charles Barkely grew up poor in Leeds, Alabama, was one of the lucky ones who made it out and made millions in the process. He knows that not many will be able to follow the path that he did, but at the same time he wants to make sure that they're able to follow A path. This is the last segment of the interview he did in West Philly.

Q: How important was it for you to come speak here, in West Philadelphia, as opposed to like a super store or a big Foot Locker…
CB: I think it's important―obviously we got the problem with the violence going on here in Philadelphia―it's deeply disturbing, I've been talking about it for a couple years now. We―we, as black people―we gotta stop killing each other. We gotta make our neighborhoods safer, and it was important to do this event here. I've been talking about it for two years now. I've had a couple meetings with the new mayor trying to figure out what ways I can help. I live in Philadelphia. It hurts me number one to see all these murders first and foremost, secondly as a black man it bothers me to see all these young black people getting killed every single day. We've got to do better. And I always say, WE got to do better. I feel so bad for these mothers. Like I say, I'm here, I live here five months a year. It's unbelievable to me, the stuff I see every single day. I mean, I see it every single day and it makes you want to cry. I met with [Philadelphia mayor] Michael [Nutter] over the summer, I said what can I do to help? And obviously we've got to find a way to stop black-on-black crime. We've got to find a way. We got so many young black kids―that's not a record you want to set every year. We've set a record like the last X amount of years. That's unfortunate and it's so sad. And like I say, I watch it every day when I'm here. And I wanted to be in a neighborhood like this. I love talking to the kids.
And I'm gonna tell ya―one of the reasons I have great admiration for Nike, when I went to them with the role model thing, it was a big deal. And they were like 'why do you want to do this commercial?' I said, 'man, I'm noticing a trend that every black kid only think they can play sports or be an entertainer. They don't think about being doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, firemen, policemen.' Cause like when I was going to speak at predominantly black schools, I was doing this thing, 'well, how many of you want to play professional sports,' and they would all raise their hands. And I was saying like wow, they don't think they can do anything but play sports. But then when I would go to predominantly white schools, I'd ask 'how many of you want to play professional sports' and only like 15 or 20 percent would raise their hands. And I'm like wow. Then I'd ask the other kids, and they'd say 'I wanna be a doctor,' or 'I wanna be a lawyer,' I wanna be an engineer, fireman, teacher. And I said I wanna start a debate about this role model thing. And I appreciate―because we took a lot of heat from the press for doing this commercial. Thankfully 80 or 90 percent of the letters we got were positive. But I knew what I was trying to do. I wanted to start a debate―like I say, I wish all of these kids could play in the NBA, but that's unrealistic. I mean, no disrespect to you little fella, but no matter how hard you work you're not gonna make it. [Laughter] I always tell people, look at your mom and dad. Are they both 5-2? Your ass better go to school and get your education. [Laughter] You know, and that's how this whole thing with my affiliation with Nike―like I said, I wanted to start a dialogue when I came up with this commercial. And I've said to this day many times, that's the greatest thing I've done in my life. And I have people come up to me even to this day and say 'that's cool'―parents. I got parents to me coming up to me to say that commercial was really important and significant.

Q: With high schools being the new breeding grounds for NBA players, do you think the ADs and coaches are doing enough…
CB: They're not. They're not doing enough to educate these kids. Because number one, the kids can't play if they don't get their education. That's what they should do. You know, but they're trying to keep their jobs. You know I said earlier I hate the AAU thing, cause they're just scumbags selling players. And, you know, if you make it, obviously everything's rosy. But most of the kids aren't going to make it. So if you use 'em up for four years of college and then kick 'em out after four years and they don't have their degree, what are they gonna do?

Q: Well, college has now been phased out almost.
CB: Well, college has been phased out, but the system is still in place. It's just hidden behind AAU and things like that. They're getting these kids, they're making millions and billions of dollars for people―coaches, organizations, however you wanna look at it―and then when they can't play anymore, or they don't make it, they're like 'OK, gotta go to the next kid.' So you put a kid out there who's uneducated, what the hell he's gonna do when he's uneducated?

Q: So when you went from high school to college to pro, what kept you grounded? Because I spoke to Allen Iverson…
CB: Well, that's not true for Allen or myself, because we were good enough. It's different because―we have a jaded point of view because we made it. It never really came into play for us. But my thing is, what about the other 99 percent who didn't make it? Those are the ones we gotta work on. I always tell people, I ain't gotta worry about the ones who made it. They good! We gotta figure out, like, my biggest regret, all my homeboys, we didn't do shit in school, we didn't get our education―I made it, so I'm all right. The other hundred of 'em didn't make it. I'm more worried about them than I am myself―it's easy for me to grow up and make millions of dollars, you ain't gotta do nothin'. But we gotta find a way, what are we gonna do about all those other kids who we let play for four years of college and then when it's over we say, 'ok, see you later.'
We've gotta find a way to make sure these schools are held accountable. They're only graduating 30 percent of these players. They're graduating 30 percent of these players, so that means they're putting seven out of 10 kids on the street. And that ain't cool. Cause they're making millions and billions of dollars on these kids. It's acceptable. Cause that's how it is. And it has a huge effect on predominantly black kids. Because a majority of the players are black. So we're really screwing them even more.

SLAM: Did you play with a lot of kids like that at Auburn?
CB: Everybody. They were just keepin' us eligible. Like I said, it's very fortunate that I made it, same thing with AI, but we wasn't graduating. We wasn't gonna graduate. They were keepin' us eligible to play sports. I'm very fortunate, I thank God every day that I made it, but when I talk to these kids, man, what if I hadn't of made it? I'd have been uneducated, walking the streets of America. That's what I stress to these kids.

Q: Charles, when you brought the I'm not a role model campaign to Nike, was it a tough sell or was it smooth?
CB: I think it was smooth. They was like, 'you know this gonna cause some waves?' I was like I'm not worried about causing waves, I'm worried about starting dialogue. Nike has always been supportive of me. I've been thinking about this new commercial. And I'm talking to Nike, I wanna make a commercial, I'm disturbed about the state of black America now with all this black-on-black crime. I'm deeply disturbed. Now I know if I make this commercial with words from Dr. King about―he would be disturbed [over the situation]. This is actually the greatest time for black people ever to live. And instead of us getting our education and taking advantage of the economic situation, we're killing each other at such an unbelievable rate. Now I know if I make that commercial, they're gonna put me in the same boat with Bill Cosby. And I can handle the heat. Bill Cosby to me is fantastic, what he's sayin'. And we've got to, number one, get our education, we've got to stop killin' each other, we got to stop havin' kids we can not afford. First of all, I've said this before, if a white guy said what Bill Cosby's said, they'd name streets after him. Bill Cosby gets criticized, and it's unfair and unfortunate. But I know if I make this commercial, certain people are gonna come after me. But first of all I know I'm right, and I know Bill Cosby's right. We as black people, we've got to get our education―we can't be killin' each other, that's just crazy, and we've got to stop havin' kids we cannot afford. I mean, I got no problem saying that―if somebody don't like that, that's unfortunate, but I know I'm right.

Q: Do you feel a solidarity within the NBA community to come together and help with these issues, because there's a lot of black people that have a lot of money that could do something really impactful?
CB: I think that these guys―no. First of all, they don't wanna do anything with the old guys. We're haters [laughter], we're the haters. It's like, and I tell people, I'm not mad at that. Because all you guys have been told some stuff by y'all mother or father that y'all think 'he don't understand me' or 'he hatin on me.' So they look at us like that. Some of 'em will listen. But some of 'em are like, 'he's just an old guy hatin' on me. I got my own thing goin'.' So, it's no different than being a father or a mother when you try and tell your kid somethin'. So it's a very interesting dynamic to answer your question. A lot of young kids are fantastic. Like I told the story today when I bought the seven cars, Doc shook the shit out of me and said 'take those cars back.' Some of these young guys today, I'm scared to talk to 'em. [laughter] Because they got their posse with 'em, and they want their seven cars. So I mean, I always tell 'em, man, you need one car. Sell those other cars, that money's gonna be worth a lot in 10, 15, 20 years. You only need one car. And you don't have to impress everybody, everybody already knows who the hell you are. But some of those young guys don't wanna hear that stuff.

Q: What about players from your generation, have you found some solidarity there?
CB: Man, I think the older guys―first of all, the money these young guys got today, they can do so many good things. They can do SO many good things. First of all, I'm not hatin' on them for making a lot of money. My five million now is 17 million. And that's a big gap. But like I say, I don't interfere with they life. If they come to me and ask me for advice, I give 'em my opinion. But I would really love to―one of the things I'm doing right now, my job is to help poor kids go to college. I'm givin' a million dollars to my high school, a million dollars to my college, a million dollars to another inner-city school. My job is to help these young kids go to college. Now, I don't see many of these young guys giving away three million dollars. You know, is that wrong? It ain't wrong. But I would love to see guys get together, 'hey we're gonna give'―they don't even have to give a million, let these kids know that we care about 'em. I would love to work with Donovan, AI, about this violence going on here in the black communities. You know, I had talked to Michael Nutter about hey man, we've got to do SOMETHING. I mean, first of all, the police are not the answer. Is it somewhat of an answer, of course it is. But we as black people have to start policing ourselves to a better way
Barkley wowed by Jordan's stash

Ed Sherman

November 16, 2007

Charles Barkley said he hasn't talked to his good friend Michael Jordan since news of Jordan's divorce settlement began to circulate.

Reports have the former Bulls star paying more than $150 million to his ex-wife, Juanita.

"I was going to call him to borrow money, but I think I'll hold off on that," Barkley said.

Barkley clearly enjoyed talking about the situation Thursday during an interview on Dan Patrick's syndicated radio show, which airs locally at 10 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.

"You have to look at it two ways," Barkley, now an analyst for TNT, said. "'Wow, that's a lot of money. Wow, that's a lot of money.' Then the second way, 'Damn, Michael's got a lot of money.' ... Personally I would have to have somebody else write the check. You've got to be so [ticked] to write that check."

Barkley said the Jordan case shows the value of having a pre-nuptial agreement.

Barkley said he doesn't have one with his wife, but economics have changed dramatically since his playing days.

"I agree with Donald Trump," Barkley said. "Everybody who's got money or thinks they're going to have money should have a pre-nup. ... If she don't sign it, you don't marry her."

Finally Barkley concluded, "I'll bet you if Juanita gets married again, she'll sign a [pre-nup]." So I'm working on another post involving yet another Top 50 player right now, but in the meantime, I figure I'd post the second part of the Charles Barkley sessions (there will be a third part as well as to not overwhelm you all today). Part One is here.

To recap―a week ago Friday, Charles Barkley made an appearance at a West Philadelphia sneaker store, in part to talk about his series of Air Force Ones, but also to talk to a crows of high school kids and impart some of the wisdom he's learned over his 40-something years.

Anyway, I taped the entire conversation he had with us national media types, and the transcript follows here. I put "SLAM" when it was a question I asked myself. This section deals mostly with sneaker stuff―for those of you too young to remember, Sir Charles had the second-hottest kicks in the universe in the '80s and '90s (behind only you-know-who).

Q: [Um, I missed it. But you can figure it out, probably.]
CB: The high schools are cool, the college are cool. Everybody talk about the NBA stuff, but man, I was really excited about my high school colors. The college stuff was a bonus, but man, I gotta tell ya I'm excited. Obviously everybody remembers the NBA stuff, but for them to do my high school was very cool and significant for me.

SLAM: What shoes did you wear in high school?
CB: Oh, I wore Nikes in high school. I wore the…I think they were…plain white leather with the black Nike Swoosh. I mean, I remember. And obviously growing up poor it was really weird, because my mom bought me one pair of shoes, they had to last the whole season. So my mom came in the locker room and got 'em after every game. Cause they had to last. It's an interesting thing. She said 'you can wear 'em as much as you want to once the season's over,' but they had to last me the whole season. So it's really weird. They're like 'who's knockin' on the door?' 'It's your mom, she wants your shoes.' After every game, it was just a weird dynamic.

SLAM: So were you one of those guys who wore a new pair every game once you reached the NBA?
CB: No, I did not. I thought that was stupid.

I'll bet he wouldn't tell close friend and golfing partner Michael Jordan that (who famously did wear a fresh pair every game). Although I sort of knew the answer to whether he wore new pairs daily―I have a pair of Barkley's game-worn shoes from his rookie year (thanks, eBay!) and them things are DOGGED.

Q: Did you have a favorite pair of all-time that you wore?
CB: I didn't have a favorite pair because I had great trust in Nike. The only thing I told Nike when we were working on my shoes was that I wanted lightweight shoes. That's the only thing I wanted. Then obviously the colors come into play depending on what team you play for. But number-one criteria I had was a lightweight shoe.

SLAM: But they could only be so light for you, or else you were gonna tear 'em up. If they were too light.
CB: Well, I mean, if I wanted shoes that were gonna tear up, I woulda got a pair of the Marburys. [Laughter] No, I got great trust―like I said, I give Steph a hard time, I like Steph, I think he's doing some great stuff. But I think it's really weird, it's really unfair, the way he try to like talk about he wants to own and not be owned. Cause first of all, there's always been cheaper shoes. Now he want to act like he's doing the soulful thing. There's always been shoes that have been cheaper than Nikes. I mean, just don't act like your doing this all out of the goodness of your heart. Just say you're trying to get a marketing tool.

Man, I thought that was a good question, too. Barkley's shoes were basically football shoes with basketball bottoms. I don't remember any of them being THAT light.

Q: Charles, could you talk about the first time you saw someone wearing your shoes?
CB: I think it's one of the great joys of life when you see somebody wearing your shoes, or you see a college team wearing your shoes―I tell you what one of the highlights of my life was, when I saw an NBA player wearing my shoes. I mean, that was really one of the highlights of the whole shoe thing. And let me tell ya something, I'm not just gonna blow smoke up Nike's ass. Not that that wouldn't be fine. Nike is probably the greatest thing that ever happened to sneakers. Nike made it cool to wear sneakers. I'm not just saying that because I'm with Nike. Shoes were not anything until Nike―and I gotta give Michael Jordan all the credit, love and respect that he deserves―Michael Jordan and Nike made sneakers cool.

Q: How did you feel when Nike came to you with this project, to have all your teams represented.
CB: Well, it was great for me. It was great for me. Like I said, I was most excited about my high school, college was a bonus, and I love seeing my old NBA stuff. But it's just great for me.

Q: You've been a competitor all your life. On the court, when it came to your shoes, did you ever see another signature shoe that Nike did and say 'I want a shoe like that.'
CB: The only player that I ever saw―they tried some with Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, all those guys―everybody wanted Michael Jordan's shoes. I told you, Michael Jordan made it cool…[laughs] Michael Jordan is the only person in the history of sports, or let's say the NBA, where everyone says 'I gotta have some of those.' Like LeBron's a great player, I don't know how his shoes are sellin'. Even Allen Iverson's had great shoes, Kobe's had shoes, but Michael Jordan is the only guy where everybody says I gotta have some of those.

Q: Do you own some?
CB: Oh yeah. I wore 'em several times. And then I wear some of his stuff off the court. But Michael Jordan and Nike they gotta get the credit they deserve. They made it cool to wear sneakers.

There's a shot I remember from SLAM with Charles (as a Rocket) wearing Air Jordan XIIs and dunking all over some poor Laker. We ran it a number of times.

Q: How much input did you have on the design of your shoes?
CB: I had a lot of input in the design. I flew out to Beaverton several times, and I appreciated that. It made me feel good. Because, and like I say, I wanted my shoes to look cool, too. That was important. And obviously Jordan, he was the man, but the myth was big guys couldn't sell shoes. And I'm, pretty confident saying mine was one of the top sellers, and probably the second top seller at Nike when I played. I'm pretty confident saying that. But they was just like 'big guys can't sell shoes.'

It's worth noting here the problem was that CENTERS couldn't sell shoes. Patrick Ewing's adidas did fairly well, as did Kareem's, and David Robinson sold his fair share of Nikes. But for the most part, seven-footers weren't doing Jordan (or even Penny) numbers. But Charles, as big has he played, was maybe 6-4. Kids definitely identified with him.

Q: Well, historically they can't.
CB: I can't worry 'bout them. I think we can.
SLAM: Did you and Mike give each other a hard time about that stuff?
CB: No, no, no. No, no, no. That was fine for me to make a couple spots with him, but like I say, man, Michael Jordan made sneakers cool. Until he came along―Magic and Bird tried to do their thing for Converse, and nobody said "I gotta have those." Much as I respect those guys. But Michael, it was like an event every time his shoes came out. And I know how Nike used to, like, at the All-Star game, break 'em out. And all the players in the locker room was like, 'shit, what are they gonna look like?' And it was like―I think that was the perfect way Nike did it, break 'em out every year at the All-Star Game. But you had Hall of Famers and All-Stars―you know, Nike did the game. They kept 'em locked up until Michael put 'em on, and people were like, 'wow.' Now that was great marketing, but it was like, 'those are cool.'

Part III, which I'll post tomorrow or the next day, is where Charles gets serious. Very serious. It'll be worth the wait.

Pavlov drill, one designed five years ago for a pandering and obedient media. And it works great.

Charles Barkley uses his seat on TNT's NBA studio show to riff about what ails the world, although not the same one you live in. And Turner TV, through replays, press releases and Website videos, quickly disseminates Barkley's remarks, which are then dutifully delivered by the media to those who might have missed them the first time.

And it doesn't matter how foolish or fractured Barkley's thoughts and conclusions may be, they're all to be regarded as poignant, important.

Such was the case Thursday, after Barry Bonds' indictment. Barkley's first words on his TNT/NBA forum were to express his anger at the government for going after Bonds "in a witch-hunt" that lasted "three or four years."

And Barkley's take made news because the news media have become conditioned to make Barkley a newsmaker.

But as witch-hunts go, Bonds, whom Barkley called "a friend," could help re-legitimize sorcery.

Absent from Barkley's Bonds-is-the-victim defense was that Bonds testified before a Federal grand jury - and less than three years ago - having been granted immunity from prosecution. The only prosecution - "witch-hunt" - Bonds could have suffered was if he lied to that jury, which is what the government now alleges, thus the perjury charges.

Perjury is a crime that should strike a social commentator and social justice advocate such as Barkley as particularly grave. After all, perjury frees the guilty and imprisons the innocent.

And perjury doesn't normally fall into the witch-hunt bin; it's not as if someone wore a wire. Bonds sat before a jury, having sworn to tell the truth.

And when perjury is alleged after the witness agrees to immunity, describing that witness as the victim of a prosecutorial witch hunt, well, a more circumspect commentator would wait to see how it plays out before backing the defendant, even if he is a pal.

In Barkley's case, caution would have especially best served him because no matter how ill-considered his words, they're Charles Barkley
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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This article is about the basketball player. For the politican, see Charles E. Barkley
Charles Barkley
Position Power forward
Nickname Sir Charles
The Round Mound of Rebound
The Chuckster
Height 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Weight 252 lb (114 kg)
Nationality United States
Born February 20, 1963 (1963-02-20) (age 44)
Leeds, Alabama, U.S.
College Auburn University
Draft 5th overall, 1984
Philadelphia 76ers
Pro career 1984�2000
Former teams Philadelphia 76ers (1984�1992)
Phoenix Suns (1992�1996)
Houston Rockets (1996�2000)
Awards SEC Player of the Year (1984)
SEC Player of the Decade (1980s)
NBA MVP (1993)
NBA All-Star MVP (1991)
11-time NBA All-Star
All-NBA First Team (1988�'91, '93)
All-NBA Second Team (1986, '87, '92, '94, '95)
All-NBA Third Team (1996)
All-Rookie Team (1984)
Olympic gold medalist (1992, '96)
One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History
Hall of Fame 2006
Charles Wade Barkley (born February 20, 1963) is a retired American professional basketball player. Nicknamed "Sir Charles," for his aggressive and outspoken demeanor, and "The Round Mound of Rebound," for his unusual build and talent as a player, Barkley established himself as one of the National Basketball Association's most dominating power forwards. He was selected to both the All-NBA First Team and All-NBA Second Team five times and once named to the All-NBA Third Team. He earned eleven NBA All-Star Game appearances and was named the All-Star MVP in 1991. In 1993, he was voted the league's Most Valuable Player and during the NBA's 50th anniversary, named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic games and won two gold medals as a member of the United States' Dream Team. In 2006, Barkley was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Barkley was popular with the fans and media, and made the NBA's All-Interview Team for each of his last 13 seasons in the league.[1] He was frequently involved in on- and off-court fights and sometimes stirred national controversy, as in 1993 when he declared that sports figures should not be considered role models. Short for a power forward, he used tenacity and strength to become a dominant rebounder. He was a versatile player who could score, defend, rebound, and assist. In 2002, he retired as one of only four players in NBA history with 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists.[2]

Since retiring as a player, Barkley has had a successful career as a color commentator on basketball. He works with Turner Network Television (TNT) as a studio analyst for their coverage of NBA games.[3] Barkley has written several books and has hinted at the possibility of a career in politics.

1 Early life
2 College
3 NBA career
3.1 Philadelphia 76ers
3.2 Spitting incident
3.3 Phoenix Suns
3.4 Role model controversy
3.5 Houston Rockets
4 Olympic career
5 Player profile
6 Legacy
7 Career statistics
8 Post-basketball life
8.1 Turner Network Television (TNT)
8.2 Gambling
8.3 Politics
8.4 Books
9 References
10 Bibliography
11 External links

Early life
Barkley was born and raised in rural Leeds, Alabama, 10 miles outside of Birmingham, and attended Leeds High School. As a junior, Barkley stood 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighed 220 pounds. He failed to make the varsity team and was named as a reserve. During the summer, Barkley grew to 6 feet, 4 inches, and 240 pounds and earned a starting position on the varsity team in his senior year. He averaged 19.1 points and 17.9 rebounds per game and led his team to a 26�3 record en route to the state semifinals.[4] Despite his play, Barkley garnered no attention from college scouts until the state high school semifinals, where he scored 26 points against Alabama's most highly recruited player, Bobby Lee Hurt.[4] An assistant to Auburn University's head coach, Sonny Smith, was at the game and reported seeing "a fat guy... who can play like the wind."[5] Barkley was soon recruited by Smith and majored in business management while attending Auburn.[4]

Barkley played collegiate basketball at Auburn University for three years. Although he struggled to control his weight, sometimes weighing over 300 pounds (136 kg), he excelled as a player and led the league in rebounding each year.[1] He became a popular crowd-pleaser, exciting the fans with dunks and blocked shots that belied his lack of height and overweight frame. It was not uncommon to see the hefty Barkley grab a defensive rebound and, instead of passing, dribble the entire length of the court and finish at the opposite end with a rim-rattling two-handed dunk. His physical size and skills ultimately earned him the nickname "The Round Mound of Rebound."[3]

During his college career, Barkley played the center position, despite being shorter than the average center. His height, frequently listed as 6 feet 6 inches, is actually closer to 6 feet 4 inches, as stated in his book I May Be Wrong but I Doubt It. He received numerous awards, including Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year (1984), two All-SEC (1983�84) selections, two Second Team All-SEC (1982�83) selections and one Third Team All-American selection (1984).[6] In addition, Barkley was later named SEC Player of the Decade for the 1980s by the Birmingham Post-Herald.[7]

In Barkley's three-year college career, he averaged 14.1 points on 65.2% field goal shooting, 9.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.[7] In 1984, he made his only appearance in the NCAA Tournament and finished with 23 points on 80% field goal shooting, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.[6] Auburn retired Barkley's No. 34 jersey on March 3, 2001.[7]

NBA career

Philadelphia 76ers
Barkley left before his final year at Auburn and made himself eligible for the 1984 NBA Draft. He was selected with the fifth pick in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers, two slots after the Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan. He joined a veteran team that included Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks, players who took Philadelphia to the 1983 NBA championship. Under the tutelage of Malone, Barkley was able to manage his weight and learned to prepare and condition himself properly for a game. He averaged 14.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game during the regular season and earned a berth on the All-Rookie Team.[2] In the postseason, the Sixers advanced into the Eastern Conference Finals but were defeated in five games by the Boston Celtics.[8] As a rookie in the postseason, Barkley averaged 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.[1]

During his second year, Barkley became the team's leading rebounder and No 2 scorer, averaging 20.0 points and 12.8 rebounds per game.[2] He became the Sixers' starting power forward and helped lead his team into the playoffs, averaging 25.0 points on 57.8% shooting from the field and 15.8 rebounds.[2] Despite his efforts, Philadelphia was eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks, four games to three, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He was named to the All-NBA Second Team.[1]

In the 1986-87 season, Moses Malone was traded to the Washington Bullets and Barkley began to assume control as the team leader. He earned his first rebounding title, averaging 14.6 rebounds per game and also led the league in offensive rebounds with 5.7 per game.[2] He averaged 23.0 points on 59.4% shooting from the field,[2] earning his first trip to an NBA All-Star game and All-NBA Second Team honors for the second straight season. In the playoffs, Barkley averaged 24.6 points and 12.6 rebounds in a losing effort,[9] for the second straight year, to the Bucks in a five-game first round playoff series.[10]

Charles Barkley making his first appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1988.The following season, Julius Erving announced his retirement and Barkley became the Sixers' franchise player.[1] Playing in 80 games and getting 300 more minutes than his nearest teammate, Barkley had his most productive season, averaging 28.3 points on 58.7% field goal shooting and 11.9 rebounds per game.[2] He appeared in his second All-Star Game and was named to the All-NBA First Team for the first time in his career. His celebrity status as the Sixers' franchise player led to his first appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated.[1] For the first time since the 1974-75 season. But the 76ers failed to make the playoffs.[1] In the 1988-89 season, Barkley continued to play well, averaging 25.8 points on 57.9% shooting and 12.5 rebounds per game.[2] He earned his third straight All-Star Game appearance and was named to the All-NBA First team for the second straight season. Despite Barkley contributing 27.0 points on 64.4% field goal shooting, 11.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists,[9] however, the 76ers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the New York Knicks.[11]

During the 1989-90 season, despite receiving more first-place votes,[12] Barkley finished second in MVP voting behind the Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson. He was named Player of the Year by The Sporting News and Basketball Weekly.[1] He averaged 25.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and a career high 60% field-goal percentage.[2] He was named to the All-NBA First Team for the third consecutive year and earned his fourth All-Star selection. He helped Philadelphia win 53 regular season games, only to lose to the Chicago Bulls in a five-game Eastern Conference Semifinals series.[13] Barkley averaged 24.7 points and 15.5 rebounds in another postseason loss.[9] His exceptional play continued into his seventh season, where he averaged 27.6 points on 57% field goal shooting and 10.1 rebounds per game.[2] His fifth straight All-Star Game appearance proved to be his best yet. He led the East to a 116�114 win over the West with 17 points and 22 rebounds, the most rebounds in an All-Star Game since Wilt Chamberlain recorded 22 in 1967.[1] Barkley was presented with Most Valuable Player honors at the All-Star Game and, at the end of the season, named to the All-NBA First Team for the fourth straight year.[1] In the postseason, Philadelphia lost again to Jordan's Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with Barkley contributing 24.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.[9]

The 1991-92 season was Barkley's final year in Philadelphia. In his last season, he wore number 32 instead of his 34 to honor Magic Johnson,[14] who announced prior to the start of the season that he was HIV-positive. Although the 76ers initially retired the number 32 in honor of Billy Cunningham, it was unretired for Barkley to wear. Following Johnson's announcement, Barkley also apologized for having made light of his condition. Responding to concerns that players may contract HIV by contact with Johnson, Barkley flippantly stated, "We're just playing basketball. It's not like we're going out to have unprotected sex with Magic."[15]

In his final season with the Sixers, averaging 23.1 points on 55.2% shooting and 11.1 rebounds per game,[2] Barkley earned his sixth straight All-Star appearance and was named to the All-NBA Second Team, his seventh straight appearance on either the first or second team. He ended his 76ers career ranked fourth in team history in total points (14,184), third in scoring average (23.3 ppg), third in rebounds (7,079), eighth in assists (2,276) and second in field-goal percentage (.576).[1] He led Philadelphia in rebounding and field-goal percentage for seven consecutive seasons and in scoring for six straight years.[2] After several early-round playoff defeats, however, and with the Sixers failing to make the postseason in the 1991-92 season with a 35�47 record,[16] Barkley demanded a trade out of Philadelphia.[3] On July 17, 1992, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang.[3]

During Barkley's eight seasons in Philadelphia, he became a household name and was one of the few NBA players to have a figure published by Kenner's Starting Lineup toy line. He also had his own signature shoe line with Nike. His outspoken and aggressive play, however, also caused a few scandals, notoriously a fight with Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer in 1990, an event which drew record fines,[17] and the infamous spitting incident.

Spitting incident
In March 1991, during an overtime game in New Jersey, a courtside heckler had been yelling racial epithets throughout the game at Barkley.[18] Upset by the heckler's remarks, Barkley turned to spit at him, but, as he later described, did not "get enough foam", missed and mistakenly spat on a young girl.[18] Rod Thorn, the then-NBA's president of operations, suspended Barkley without pay and fined him $10,000 for spitting and using abusive language at the fan.[19] It became a national story and Barkley was vilified for it.[18] Barkley, however, eventually developed a friendship with the girl and her family.[3] He apologized and, among other things, provided tickets to future games.[20]

Upon retirement, Barkley was later quoted as stating, "I was fairly controversial, I guess, but I regret only one thing―the spitting incident. But you know what? It taught me a valuable lesson. It taught me that I was getting way too intense during the game. It let me know I wanted to win way too bad. I had to calm down. I wanted to win at all costs. Instead of playing the game the right way and respecting the game, I only thought about winning."[21]

Phoenix Suns
The trade to Phoenix in the 1992-93 season went well for both Barkley and the Suns. He averaged 25.6 points on 52% shooting, 12.2 rebounds and a career high 5.1 assists per game,[2] leading the Suns to an NBA best 62�20 record.[22] For his efforts, Barkley won the league's Most Valuable Player Award and was named to his seventh straight All-Star appearance. He became the third player ever to win league MVP honors in the season immediately after being traded, established multiple career highs and led Phoenix to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1976.[1] Despite Barkley's proclamation to Jordan, that it was "destiny" for the Suns to win the title, they were defeated in six games by the Bulls. He averaged 26.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game during the postseason.[9]

As a result of severe back pains, Barkley began to speculate his last year in Phoenix during the 1993-94 season.[1] Playing through the worst injury problems of his career, Barkley managed 21.6 points on 49.5% shooting and 11.2 rebounds per game.[2] He was selected to his eighth consecutive All-Star game, but did not play because of a torn right quadriceps tendon,[1] and was named to the All-NBA Second Team. With Barkley fighting injuries, the Suns still managed a 56�26 record and made it to the Western Conference Semifinals. Despite holding a 2�0 lead in the series,[23] however, the Suns lost in seven games to the eventual champion Houston Rockets.[23] Despite his injuries, in Game 3 of a first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, Barkley hit 23 of 31 field-goal attempts and finished with 56 points, the then-third-highest total ever in a playoff game.[1][9] After contemplating retirement in the offseason,[1] Barkley returned for his eleventh season and continued to battle injuries.[3] He struggled during the first half of the season,[1] but managed to gradually improve, earning his ninth consecutive appearance in the All-Star Game. He averaged 23 points on 48.6% field goal shooting and 11.1 rebounds per game,[2] while leading the Suns to a 59�23 record.[24] In the postseason, despite having a 3�1 lead in the series,[24] the Suns once again lost to the defending champion Rockets in seven games.[24] Barkley averaged 25.7 points on 50% field goal shooting and 13.4 rebounds per game in the postseason,[9] but was limited in Game 7 of the Semifinals by a leg injury.[1]

The 1995-96 season was Barkley's last on the Phoenix Suns. He led the team in scoring, rebounds and steals, averaging 23.3 points on 50% field goal shooting, 11.6 rebounds and a career high 77.7% free throw shooting.[2] He earned his tenth appearance in an All-Star Game as the top vote-getter among Western Conference players and posted his 18th career triple-double on November 22.[9] He also became just the tenth player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points and 10,000 rebounds in their career.[1][2] In the postseason, Barkley averaged 25.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game in a four-game first round playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs.[25][9] After the Suns closed out the season with a 41�41 record and a first-round playoff loss, Barkley was traded to Houston in exchange for Sam Cassell, Robert Horry, Mark Bryant and Chucky Brown.[26]

During his career with the Suns, Barkley excelled as a player, earning All-NBA and All-Star honors in each of his four seasons. The always outspoken Barkley, however, continued to stir up controversy during the 1993 season, when he claimed that sports figures should not be role models.[27]

Role model controversy
Throughout his career, Barkley had been arguing that athletes should not be considered role models.[3] He stated, "A million guys can dunk a basketball in jail; should they be role models?" In 1993, his argument prompted national news when he wrote the text for his "I am not a role model" Nike commercial. Dan Quayle, the former Vice President of the United States, called it a "family-values message" for Barkley's oft-ignored call for parents and teachers to quit looking to him to "raise your kids" and instead be role models themselves.[26]

Barkley's message sparked a great public debate about the nature of role models. He argued,

I think the media demands that athletes be role models because there's some jealousy involved. It's as if they say, this is a young black kid playing a game for a living and making all this money, so we're going to make it tough on him. And what they're really doing is telling kids to look up to someone they can't become, because not many people can be like we are. Kids can't be like Michael Jordan.[26]

Houston Rockets
The trade to the Houston Rockets in the 1996-97 season was Barkley's last chance at capturing an NBA championship title. He joined a veteran team that included two of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. He continued to battle injuries throughout the season and played only 53 games, missing fourteen because of a laceration and bruise on his left pelvis, eleven because of a sprained right ankle and four due to suspensions.[1] He became the team's second leading scorer, averaging 19.2 points on 48.4% shooting;[2] the first time since his rookie year that he averaged below 20 points per game. With Olajuwon taking most of the shots, Barkley focused primarily on rebounding, averaging 13.5 per game, the second best in his career.[2] The Rockets ended the regular season with a 57�25 record and advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they were defeated in six games by the Utah Jazz.[1] Barkley averaged 17.9 points and 12.0 rebounds per game in another postseason loss.[28]

The 1997-98 season was another injury plagued year for Barkley. He averaged 15.2 points on 48.5% shooting and 11.7 rebounds per game.[2] The Rockets ended the season with a 41�41 record and were eliminated in five games by the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. Limited by injuries, Barkley played four games and averaged career lows of 9.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per game.[9] During the league-lockout shortened season, Barkley played 42 regular season games and managed 16.1 points on 47.8% field goal shooting and 12.3 rebounds per game.[2] He became the second player in NBA history, following Wilt Chamberlain, to accumulate 23,000 points, 12,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists in their career.[1] The Rockets concluded the shortened season with a 31�19 record and advanced to the playoffs.[29] In his last postseason appearance, Barkley averaged 23.5 points on 52.9% field goal shooting and 13.8 rebounds per game in a first round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.[9] He concluded his postseason career averaging 22.1 points on 54.1% field goal shooting, 11.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.[1]

In his final year in the NBA, Barkley's season and career ended prematurely after rupturing his left quadriceps tendon on December 8, 1999 in Philadelphia, where his career began.[30] Before the injury, Barkley averaged 14.5 points on 47.7% field goal shooting and 10.5 rebounds per game.[2] Refusing to allow his injury to be the last image of his career, Barkley returned after four months for one final game. On April 19, 2000, in a home game against the Vancouver Grizzlies, Barkley scored a memorable basket on an offensive rebound and putback, a common trademark during his career. He accomplished what he set out to do after being activated from the injured list, and walked off the court to a standing ovation.[31] He stated, "I can't explain what tonight meant. I did it for me. I've won and lost a lot of games, but the last memory I had was being carried off the court. I couldn't get over the mental block of being carried off the court. It was important psychologically to walk off the court on my own."[31] After the basket, Barkley immediately retired and concluded his sixteen year NBA Hall of Fame career.

Olympic career
Olympic medal record
Men's Basketball
Gold 1992 Barcelona United States
Gold 1996 Atlanta United States
Barkley competed in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic games and won two gold medals as a member of the United States men's basketball team. In 1992, international rules, which had previously prevented NBA players from playing in the Olympics were changed, allowing Barkley and fellow NBA players to compete in the Olympics for the first time. The result was the legendary Dream Team, which went 6�0 in the Olympic qualifying tournament and 8�0 against Olympic opponents. The team averaged an Olympic record 117.3 points a game and won games by an average of 43.8 points.[32] Barkley led the team with 18.0 points on 71.1% field goal shooting and set a then-Olympic single game scoring record with 30 points in a 127�83 victory over Brazil.[32] He also set a U.S. Men's Olympic record for highest three point field goal percentage with 87.5% and added 4.1 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game.[33]

At the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games, Barkley led the team in scoring, rebounds, and field goal percentage. He averaged 12.4 points on 81.6% field goal shooting, setting a U.S. Men's Olympic record.[33] In addition, he also contributed 6.6 rebounds per game. Under Barkley's leadership, the team once again compiled a perfect 8�0 record and captured gold medal honors.[34]

Player profile
Barkley primarily played the power forward position. He was known for his unusual build as a basketball player, stockier than most small forwards, yet shorter than the league's power forwards. Barkley was, however, still capable of outplaying bigger players and overpowering smaller opponents.[1] He was fluid on the fast break, a powerful jumper, an accurate shooter and one of the NBA's premier clutch players.[1] He was a prolific scorer who averaged 22.1 points per game for his career,[9] with the ability to score on the perimeter or finish inside with a powerful dunk. He scored with great efficiency and averaged 54.1% field goal accuracy for his career, including a career high 60% during the 1989-90 NBA season.[9]

Frequently listed as 6 feet 6 inches, but measuring slightly under 6 feet 5 inches,[35][36] Barkley was the shortest player in NBA history to lead the league in rebounding and averaged a career high 14.6 rebounds per game during the 1986-87 season.[37] His tenacious and aggressive play helped cement his legacy as one of the greatest rebounders in NBA history, as he averaged 11.7 rebounds per game and totaled 12,546 rebounds for his career.[9] He topped the NBA in offensive rebounding for three straight years[3] and was capable of controlling a defensive rebound, dribbling the length of the court and finishing at the rim with a powerful dunk.[37] He also possessed considerable defensive talents. He concluded his career as the second All-Time leader in steals for the power forward position[38] and, despite being undersized, also finished among the All-Time leaders in blocked shots.[39]

In a SLAM magazine issue ranking NBA greats, Barkley was ranked among the top 20 players of All-Time. In the magazine, NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton commented on Barkley's ability. Walton stated, "Barkley is like Magic [Johnson] and Larry [Bird] in that they don't really play a position. He plays everything; he plays basketball. There is nobody who does what Barkley does. He's a dominant rebounder, a dominant defensive player, a three-point shooter, a dribbler, a playmaker."[3]

During his sixteen year NBA career, Barkley was regarded as one of the most controversial, outspoken and dominating players in the history of basketball. His impact on the sport went far beyond his rebounding titles, assists, scoring and consistent play.[20] His larger than life persona and confrontational mannerisms often led to technical fouls and fines and sometimes gave rise to national controversy, such as when he was featured in ads that rejected pro athletes as role models and declared, "I am not a role model."[40] Although his words often lead to controversy, according to Barkley his mouth never caused trouble because it always spoke the truth.[20] He stated, "I don't create controversies. They're there long before I open my mouth. I just bring them to your attention."[3]

Barkley was frequently fined for on-court fights with NBA players, such as Shaquille O'Neal, Bill Laimbeer, and Charles Oakley, among others.[41] He was also equally confrontational off the court. He was arrested for breaking a man's nose during a fight after a game with the Milwaukee Bucks [42] and also for throwing a man through a plate-glass window after being struck with a glass of ice.[43] Notwithstanding these occurrences, Barkley continued to remain popular with the fans and media.

As a player, Barkley was a perennial All-Star who earned league MVP honors in 1993.[3] He employed a physical style of play that earned him the nicknames "Sir Charles" and "The Round Mound of Rebound."[44] He was named to the All-NBA team eleven times and earned two gold medals as a member of the United States Olympic Basketball team. He led both teams in scoring and was instrumental in helping the 1992 "Dream Team" and 1996 Men's Basketball team compile a perfect 16�0 record.[32][34] He retired as one of only four players in NBA history to record at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists in their career.[3]

In recognition of his collegiate and NBA achievements, Barkley's number 34 jersey was officially retired by the University of Auburn on March 3, 2001. In the same month, the Philadelphia 76ers also officially retired Barkley's jersey.[35] Several years later, the Phoenix Suns honored Barkley as well by retiring his jersey and including him within the "Suns Ring of Honor." He joined Alvan Adams, Connie Hawkins, Tom Chambers, Dan Majerle, Walter Davis, Dick Van Arsdale, Paul Westphal and Kevin Johnson as the only players included in the "Suns Ring of Honor."[45]

reflexively distributed by his network, reflexively repeated by the news media and reflexively stamped, "Important."


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