Charles Wade Barkley (born February 20, 1963) is an American retired 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. 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 2000, he retired as one of only four players in NBA history with 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists.
Since retiring as a player, Barkley has had a successful career as an Emmy Award winning color commentator on basketball. He works with Turner Network Television (TNT) as a studio pundit for its coverage of NBA games. In addition, Barkley has written several books and has also shown an interest in politics.
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 stated as 6 feet 4 inches 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). In addition, Barkley was later named SEC Player of the Decade for the 1980s by the Birmingham Post-Herald.
In Barkley's three-year college career, he averaged 14.3 points on 68.2% field goal shooting, 9.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. 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. Auburn retired Barkley's No. 34 jersey on March 3, 2001.
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. 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. 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.
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. He averaged 23.0 points on 59.4% shooting from the field, 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, for the second straight year, to the Bucks in a five-game first round playoff series.
The following season, Julius Erving announced his retirement and Barkley became the Sixers' franchise player. 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. 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. But, for the first time since the 1974-75 season, the 76ers failed to make the playoffs. In the 1988-89 season, Barkley continued to play well, averaging 25.8 points on 57.9% shooting and 12.5 rebounds per game. 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, however, the 76ers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the New York Knicks.
During the 1989-90 season, despite receiving more first-place votes, 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. He averaged 25.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and a career high 60% field-goal percentage. 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. Barkley averaged 24.7 points and 15.5 rebounds in another postseason loss. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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, 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 stated, "We're just playing basketball. It's not like we're going out to have unprotected sex with Magic.
In his final season with the Sixers, averaging 23.1 points on 55.2% shooting and 11.1 rebounds per game, 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). He led Philadelphia in rebounding and field-goal percentage for seven consecutive seasons and in scoring for six straight years. 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, Barkley demanded a trade out of Philadelphia. On July 17, 1992, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang.
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, and the infamous spitting incident.
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.
As a result of severe back pains, Barkley began to speculate his last year in Phoenix during the 1993-94 season. Playing through the worst injury problems of his career, Barkley managed 21.6 points on 49.5% shooting and 11.2 rebounds per game. He was selected to his eighth consecutive All-Star game, but did not play because of a torn right quadriceps tendon, 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, however, the Suns lost in seven games to the eventual champion Houston Rockets. 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. After contemplating retirement in the offseason, Barkley returned for his eleventh season and continued to battle injuries. He struggled during the first half of the season, 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, while leading the Suns to a 59–23 record. In the postseason, despite having a 3–1 lead in the series, the Suns once again lost to the defending champion Rockets in seven games. Barkley averaged 25.7 points on 50% field goal shooting and 13.4 rebounds per game in the postseason, but was limited in Game 7 of the Semifinals by a leg injury.
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. 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. He also became just the tenth player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points and 10,000 rebounds in their career. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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. He became the second player in NBA history, following Wilt Chamberlain, to accumulate 23,000 points, 12,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists in his career. The Rockets concluded the shortened season with a 31–19 record and advanced to the playoffs. 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. He concluded his postseason career averaging 22.1 points on 54.1% field goal shooting, 11.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
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. Before the injury, Barkley averaged 14.5 points on 47.7% field goal shooting and 10.5 rebounds per game. 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. 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." After the basket, Barkley immediately retired and concluded his sixteen-year NBA Hall of Fame career.
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. 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. 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. Barkley was also part of an ugly moment in the 1992 Olympics when he intentionally elbowed Angola player Herlander Coimbra in the chest during a 116-48 rout of that team.
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. 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.
He was a prolific scorer who averaged 22.1 points per game for his season career and 23.0 points per game for his play-off career,. Barkley was one of the NBA`s most versetaile players and accurate scorers capabable of shooting from anywhere on the court and was established himself as one of the NBA's premier clutch players. During his time in the NBA, Barkley was seen as a constant missmatch because he possessed a set of skills that where very uncommon at its time or even at present time. Barkley`s game was capable of adjusting to shooting guard, a small forward, a powerforward and a center, all those set of skills intermingled into one body and sometimes into one single motion of play. As a scorer he the ability to do it from the outside, on the perimeter, on the post (famous for his spin moves and fadeways) or finish off on a fast break with a powerful dunk. He is one of the most efficient scorers of All-Time, scoring at 54.13% total field goal shooting for his season career and 51.34% total field goal shooting for his play-off career (including a career season high of 60% during the 1989-90 NBA season).. Barkley is also known for having the second highest career season 2-point field goal shooting in NBA history at 58.13% (second to great center Artis Gilmore). That fact, along with the fact that he only took 14.5 season FGA per game and 16 play-off FGA per game (which is very low for a focal scorer, let alone an NBA Superstar) puts him in the category as one of the most efficient high scoring NBA players of All-Time.,
Frequently listed as 6 feet 6 inches, but measuring slightly under 6 feet 5 inches (1.95 mt), 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.. His tenacious and aggressive play helped cement his legacy as one of the greatest rebounders in NBA history, averaging 11.7 rebounds per game for his season career and 12.9 rebounds per game for his play-off career. He also totaled 12,546 rebounds for his season career.. Barkley topped the NBA in offensive rebounding for three straight years and was most famous among very few powerforwards that where capable of controlling a defensive rebound, dribbling the length of the court and finishing at the rim with a powerful dunk (Coast to Coast in NBA slang).
Barkley also possessed considerable defensive talents led by an agressive demenoar, speed of hands and his capacitiy to read the floor to anticipate for a steals, reason why he established his career as the second All-Time leader in steals for the power forward position and ended up having the highest All-Time steal per game average for the power forward position. Despite being undersized for both the small forward and powerforward positions, he also finished among the All-Time leaders in blocked shots. a fact that is most impressive since he was usually guarding players that where on average 4-5 inches taller than him. His speed and leaping ability made him one of the few power forwards capable of running down court to block a faster player that was loose on break. Those attributes and the notion of the center position (his original position in college) that gave him great foot work and timing to shot block, where all part of why he was able to become a decent shot blocker despide being undersized.
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."
Barkley was frequently fined for on-court fights with NBA players, such as Shaquille O'Neal, Bill Laimbeer, and Charles Oakley, among others. 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 and also for throwing a man through a plate-glass window after being struck with a glass of ice. Notwithstanding these occurrences, Barkley continued to remain popular with the fans and media because of his sense of humor and honesty.
As a player, Barkley was a perennial All-Star who earned league MVP honors in 1993. He employed a physical style of play that earned him the nicknames "Sir Charles" and "The Round Mound of Rebound. 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. 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.
In recognition of his collegiate and NBA achievements, Barkley's number 34 jersey was officially retired by Auburn University on March 3, 2001. In the same month, the Philadelphia 76ers also officially retired Barkley's jersey. 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.
During the broadcast of a game, in which Barkley was courtside with Marv Albert, Barkley poked fun at NBA official Dick Bavetta's age. Albert replied to Barkley, "I believe Dick would beat you in a footrace." In response to that remark, Barkley went on to challenge Bavetta to a race at the 2007 NBA All-Star Weekend for $50,000. The winner was to choose a charity to which the money would be donated. The pair raced for three and a half lengths of the basketball court until Barkley ultimately won. After the event, the two embraced in a show of good sportsmanship.
Despite suffering big losses, Barkley also claims to have won on several occasions. During a trip to Las Vegas, he claims to have won $700,000 from playing blackjack and betting on the Indianapolis Colts to defeat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. He went on to state, however, "No matter how much I win it ain't a lot. It's only a lot when I lose. And you always lose. I think it's fun, I think it's exciting. I'm gonna continue to do it but I have to get to a point where I don't try to break the casino 'cause you never can." In May 2008, the Wynn Las Vegas casino filed a civil complaint against Barkley, alleging that he had failed to pay a $400,000 debt stemming from October 2007. Barkley responded by taking blame for letting time lapse on the repayment of the debt and paid it back.
In May 2008, after repaying his debt to the Wynn Las Vegas, Barkley stated during a pregame show on TNT that "I've got to stop gambling. ... I am not going to gamble anymore. For right now, the next year or two, I'm not going to gamble. ... Just because I can afford to lose money doesn't mean I should do it.
I was a Republican until they lost their minds, "The word 'conservative' means 'discriminatory,' practically. It's a form of political discrimination. What do the Republicans run on? Against gay marriage and for a war that makes no sense. A war that was based on faulty intelligence. That's all they ever talk about. That and immigration. Another discriminatory argument for political gain.
At a July 2006 meeting of the Southern Regional Conference of the National School Boards Association in Destin, Florida, Barkley lent credence to the idea of running for Governor of Alabama, stating:
I'm serious. I've got to get people to realize that the government is full of it. Republicans and Democrats want to argue over stuff that's not important, like gay marriage or the war in Iraq or illegal immigration... When I run - if I run - we're going to talk about real issues like improving our schools, cleaning up our neighborhoods of drugs and crime and making Alabama a better place for all people.
In September 2006, Barkley once again reiterated his desire to run for Governor. He noted, "I can't run until 2014...I have to live there for seven years, so I'm looking for a house there as we speak." In July 2007, he made a video declaring his support for Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election. In September 2007, during a broadcast on Monday Night Football, Barkley announced that he bought a house in Alabama to satisfy residency requirements for a 2014 campaign for governor. In addition, Barkley declared himself an Independent and not Democratic as previously reported. "The Republicans are full of it," Barkley said, "The Democrats are a little less full of it."
In February 2008, Barkley announced that he would be running for Governor of Alabama in 2014 as an Independent. He explained, "I don't like the way the Republicans are taking this country. Every time I hear the word "conservative," it makes me sick to my stomach, because they're really just fake Christians, as I call them. That's all they are. But I just -- I'm going to vote Democratic no matter what." When asked to elaborate on the term "fake Christians" Barkley explained:
"Well, I think they -- they want to be judge and jury. Like, I'm for gay marriage. It's none of my business if gay people want to get married. I'm pro-choice. And I think these Christians -- first of all, they're supposed to be -- they're not supposed to judge other people. But they're the most hypocritical judge of people we have in this country. And it bugs the hell out of me. They act like they're Christians. And they're not forgiving at all.
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