Charles Barkley turns 50 today and is one of the most well known NBA figures of the past. We all know Barkley as that loud mouth, get in your face, always arguing type of NBA player. His nicknames consisted of “Chuck”, “Sir Charles”, and “The Round Mound of Rebound” because he dominated on the boards as a power forward. He is known as one of the best power forwards in the NBA of all time. So lets remember Charles Barkley on his special day today by looking back at his impact on the NBA and life playing basketball.
Charles Barkley grew up in Leeds, Alabama and went to Leeds High School. At Leeds High as a junior, he didn’t make it on the varsity basketball team standing at 5’10 and weighing 220 and was pegged as a reserve. However, over the summer, Barkley shot up to 6’4 entering his senior year and earned a starting position on varsity. He averaged 19.1 points a game, while also grabbing an astounding 17.9 rebounds a game and led his team to a 26-3 record on route to the Alabama state semi-finals. Despite the abilities that Barkley could show on the court, no colleges seemed interested until the semi-final game when he made one of the best and most highly recruited players in the country in Bobby Lee Hurt, look like chump meat when he threw down 26 points on him.
Despite being overweight, Barkley was still recruited by Auburn University. Barkley excelled in the SEC leading in the rebound category in all three years he attended Auburn. “Chuck” became a very big crowd suction cup by bringing in sell out crowds to Auburn due to his massive dunking and morale-killing blocked shots. Of course lets not forget the rebounding ability that he possessed in all three years. Barkley is now part of Auburn’s All-Century team and has had No. 34 jersey retired.
“Sir Charles” was drafted 5th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1984 NBA draft that included now Hall of Fame players in Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and John Stockton. Barkley joined a team of veterans that included “Dr. J”, Maurice Cheeks, and Moses Malone. They had just taken the 1983 NBA title and Barkley had to establish himself amongst future Hall of Famers. Upon arriving in Philly, Barkley learned to control his weight and conditioned himself before every game like a proper NBA player would. He made it on the All Rookie team his first year in the NBA.
By his second year, Charles was already the leading rebounder on his team and averaged 20 points a game. He saved his best for the playoffs that year when he rounded out 25 points a game and 15.8 rebounds a game, however despite all that, Barkley’s Sixers were defeated 4-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Eventually, Barkley became the Sixer’s franchise player when “Dr. J” retired, but in 1991 when he got involved with fan and attempted to spit on him, it ended up landing on a little girl, which ended up being the last straw with the Sixers. This is that rough and dirty Barkley we knew him back when and know him now.
Barkley was traded to the Suns, which became his ultimate resting ground through his “prime” years. He averaged 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, and a career high 5.1 assists per game in 1992-1993 season. His efforts landed him the MVP award that year and eventually was part of the world-wide known 1992 “Dream Team”. Due to his huge injury history late in his Suns career, Barkley only played 4 seasons with Suns and the Suns eventually traded him to the Houston Rockets.
As a Houston Rocket, signs of the huge injury problems plagued him throughout the years and was not as effective as the years in Philly or Phoenix. The one game Barkley showed to fans as his old self was when he recorded an incredible 33 rebounds, however injuries plagued him and he only managed to play 53 games in the 95-96 season. Barkley never truly got his game back to what he once was as injuries continued to plague him, but when healthy that dirty, tasteless, and selfish player continued to be viewed on the court. In 2000, Barkley retired after an amazing 16 year career that ended nothing more than mediocre.
For some people, Barkley will be viewed as one of the best players in the NBA. Others will see a dirty, and selfish player that walked the court day in and day out. I view him as one of best players in the league, however I also see that dirty, ejected-filled resume that he has piled up as a player through those 16 years. Whatever your stance is on Barkley, he still made it to the Hall of Fame and by statistics is one of the best power forwards in the NBA. So Happy 50th Birthday Chuck, I hope you have as good of 50th birthday as Michael Jordan
By: Richie Boswell