In the 90s, Charles Barkley entered his name in the history of the NBA. He was one of the brightest players of his era, not only on the court, but also off it. Hot-tempered, straightforward, but such an incredibly talented athlete would never be left without attention. True, professionally, Sir Charles could have achieved much more if not for a single “but” … Michael Jordan.
Becoming a superstar began at Auburn University. Young Chuck was below the average center and was already experiencing difficulties with being overweight, but still remained one of the most spectacular players in his student league. Rebounds, dunks, block shots, dribbling – all this became Barkley’s calling card back in his university years. He spent three years at the Auburn before deciding to enter the 1984 draft.
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There, under the fifth number, he was chosen by Philadelphia. Then the legendary Moses Malone, Julius Irving and Maurice Cheeks still played for the Sixers. But even so, Phil was far from a priority for Barkley. But why?
A month before the draft, team representatives contacted Chuck and set a condition for him to lose 7 kg. The player drove even more than required, but shortly before the ceremony he learned from his agent that during his debut season as part of the team he could earn only $ 75 thousand. Then the idea came to Charles: if he did not fulfill the requirements of the Sixers, they would not give pick for him and he can get a more attractive contract elsewhere. Thanks to fast food, in just two days, he gained as much as 9 kg and, with a calm soul, went to the draft.
“When we flew to Philadelphia, I weighed 137 kg. I thought, “Thank God the 66ers won’t pick me.” But when commissioner David Stern said, “The Philadelphia 76ers are picking Charles Barkley,” I thought, “Oh shit.”
And here I go in this terrible burgundy suit. Everyone else is happy, but Charles is unhappy. But everything turned out great. The most important person in my basketball career was Moses Malone. He made me lose weight to 113 kg, and the rest is history, ”recalls Barkley.
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Charles has truly gone down in history. During his 16 years in the NBA, he played 11 times in the All-Star Game, 11 times he got into the symbolic teams, and in 1993 he became the most valuable player of the regular season. Effective on both ends of the floor, he was famous for his contact and aggressive play, which at one time allowed Barkley to become the league’s top rebounder. As a result, he became the fourth player in NBA history to score over 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 career assists. In 2006, he entered the Basketball Hall of Fame.
But he, like many other legendary basketball players, was simply unlucky to play at the same time as Michael Jordan. His Airiness left not only Chuck without a ring, but also Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton … Although Barkley himself is not particularly worried about this. In The Last Dance, he recalled how his Philadelphia team was defeated by the Bulls in the finals in 1993. The Suns, who then had home court advantage, lost three home games and ended up losing the series 2-4. And Jordan, who delivered crazy statistics, received the Final Series MVP award.
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But Charles accepts this defeat with dignity:
“In the second match, I played as well as I could, but Michael just outplayed me. It was probably the first time in my life when I felt that there is a basketball player in the world who is better than me. I’m not ashamed to lose to Michael. Losing to him is nothing to be ashamed of.”
After that, MJ won three more championship titles, but Barkley never again played in the NBA Finals. In the past, Michael liked to play pranks on Chuck, who was left without a ring. They were good friends, but their communication finally ended in 2012. At that time, Barkley was already working as an analyst on television and on the air criticized Jordan for his failures as the owner of Charlotte. The comments offended His Vozdushnost to such an extent that he simply cut off all contact with Charles. And a reunion is not possible – Barkley himself believes so, because they are both “too stubborn.”
But even before he became a television analyst, Charles was famous for his controversial statements and actions. In 1991, he spat at a fan who was shouting racist insults at him, but accidentally hit a 10-year-old girl. That same year, he was arrested for fighting after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals when he broke the nose of a Milwaukee fan. And in 1997, Chuck threw a certain provocateur out of the window of a bar, who twice threw a glass of ice at him. At the same time, Barkley himself admits that he was arrested not one, not two, but eight times for clashes with fans.
“I was arrested eight times for hitting fans. And all eight times they deserved it,” he said.
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But Barkley loved to fight not only outside the site. There were two famous skirmishes in his career: with Bill Laimbeer in 1990 and with Shaquille O’Neal in 1999. In the first case, he stood up for teammate Rick Mahorn, whom Laimbier loaded the ball in the face. And in the second case, Barkley himself used a similar technique, deliberately throwing the ball at Shaq’s head. But Chuck had always disliked Laimbeer, but he and O’Neill were good friends. That incident did not spoil the relationship – the friendship was saved by a joint dinner and a game of golf. They now work together on the show Inside the NBA and remain best friends despite heated debates on the air.
Fans still love Barkley. And if his playing career had come at the time of the Internet and social networks, he would be guaranteed to be one of the most popular basketball players in the world. But at one time he remained in the shadow of Michael Jordan. It’s a pity!