Sir Charles was born as Charles Wade Barkley in Leeds (near Birmingham), Alabama, on the 20th of February 1963. He was raised in both Leeds and its adjacent environs. Childhood was good, and the lad was fondly nicknamed ‘Chuck’.
He completed his High School at Leeds (Ala.) where he first showed serious interest in basketball. Despite standing above 5’10” as freshman, he consistently struggled to keep his weight down. Charles drew attention for the first time during one of his state’s semi-finals games. Sparks of his versatility dazzled as he outshined Bobby Lee Hurt, who was then Alabama’s most acclaimed player.
His college berth took him to Auburn, where a combination of hard work and talent helped him perfect his art. His game soared and he ended-up as a member of the Auburn’s All-Century team. He also won a number of accolades, including Southeastern Conference Player of the Year (for 1984). An impressed Birmingham Post-Herald awarded him Player of the Decade (for the 1980s). Charles Barkley still holds the Auburn record for career Field Goal percentage, (62.6%).
During the 1984 NCAA Tournament, Charles finished with 23 points on 80% field goal shootings. He also grabbed 17 rebounds, posted 4 assists, and pocketed 2 steals and 2 blocks. His grateful alma-mater would later retire his jersey number 34—as a way of paying tribute.
Following his college brilliance and adorning successes, Sir Charles was drafted (later that 1984) as fifth overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers. His skills were in high demand, and several teams tempted the 76ers with all kinds of record-bargains. The “Round Mound of Rebound” eventually moved over to Phoenix Suns on June 17, 1992. Still, relentless scouts would not let him perch. They stepped-up the offers and pursuits until another transfer saw him pitching tent with the Houston Rockets (on 19th of August 1996).
Extremely versatile; in fact, Charles’ unique ball versatility prompted Bill Walton (an ex-76ers and NBA Hall-of-Famer) to say the following about him: “Barkley is like Magic (Johnson) and Larry (Bird) in that they don’t really play a (single) 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, and a playmaker.”
Charles Barkley is also well-known for power-forwarding and dominating bigger players who are often up to six inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. His exceptional courage in the face of overwhelming odds made his former Phoenix Sun’s coach, Cotton Fitzsimmons, to liken him to no one else but The Greatest, Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay). Fitzsimmons made the following remarks: “I adore his guts. Indeed, if you listen to Barkley and close your eyes, you might hear a young Cassius Clay talking.”
Alongside three other great players (namely: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Karl Malone), Charles is in the exclusive league of only four players who parade a resume that included a rare combination of at least 20,000 Points, at least 10,000 Rebounds, and at least 4,000 Assists.
Some of his most notable career statistics, as well as major honors and accomplishments are:
1. 5th Overall Draft 1984 (by the 76ers)
2. Member of the original Dream Team (1992)
3. 2-time Olympic Champion (1992 and 1996)
4. 11-time NBA All-Star Selections
5. NBA MVP (1993)
6. All-Star MVP (1991)
7. 5-time All-NBA First Team (1988, ’89, ’90, ’91, and ‘93)
8. 5-time All-NBA Second Team (1986, ’87, ’92, ’94, and ‘95)
9. Shortest player ever to win the Rebounding title (1986/87 season)
10. Averaged at least 20PPG and 10RPG for eleven consecutive seasons (1986 to 1996)
Charles Barkley concluded his sixteen-year Hall-of-Fame career in 2000 (with the Houston Rockets). However, as soon as he hanged his jersey for good, many broadcasting houses came falling all over him—so as to enlist his descriptive expertise of the game. He would later oblige; and even went on to win the prestigious Emmy-Award as a basketball commentator. The NBA inducted Sir Charles into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
What did you think of this review?