Charles Wade Barkley (born February 20, 1963) is an American retired professional basketball player and politician. 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 Basketball at the 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.
Barkley was born and raised in suburban Leeds, Alabama ten miles (16 km) 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. However, during the summer Barkley grew to 6 feet, 4 inches 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. 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." Barkley was soon recruited by Smith and majored in business management while attending Auburn.
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 14.8 points on 68.2% field goal shooting, 9.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. As a rookie in the postseason, Barkley averaged 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. 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.
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. Barkley averaged 24.7 points and 15.5 rebounds in another postseason loss. 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 .552 shooting and 11.1 rebounds per game, Barkley demanded a trade out of Philadelphia. and the infamous 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. 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. It became a national story and Barkley was vilified for it.
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."
The trade to Phoenix in the 1992-93 season went well for both Barkley and the Suns. He averaged 25.6 points on .520 shooting, 12.2 rebounds and a career high 5.1 assists per game, For his efforts, Barkley won the league's Most Valuable Player Award, and was selected to play in his seventh straight All-Star Game. 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. however, the Suns lost in seven games to the eventual champion Houston Rockets. In the postseason, despite having a 3–1 lead in the series,
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.
Role model controversyEdit
Throughout his career, Barkley had been arguing that athletes should not be considered role models.
The 1997-98 season was another injury-plagued year for Barkley. He averaged 15.2 points on .485 shooting and 11.7 rebounds per game. In his last postseason appearance, Barkley averaged 23.5 points on .529 shooting and 13.8 rebounds per game in a first-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Before the injury, Barkley averaged 14.5 points on .477 shooting and 10.5 rebounds per game. 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. 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.
Barkley played the power forward position but on some occasions he would play the small forward and center positions. He was known for his unusual build as a basketball player, stockier than most small forwards, yet shorter than most power forwards he faced. Barkley however was still capable of outplaying both taller opponents and quicker opponents., Barkley is the shortest player in NBA history to lead the league in rebounding when he averaged a career high 14.6 rebounds per game during the 1986-87 season.. His tenacious and aggressive form of play built into an undersized frame that fluctuated between 284 and 252 lbs 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. and leader of the highest All-Time steal per game average for the power forward position. Despite being undersized for both the small forward and power forwards 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 despite 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." Although his words often lead to controversy, according to Barkley his mouth never caused trouble because it always spoke the truth. 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 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.
Turner Network Television (TNT)Edit
Since 2000, Barkley has served as a studio analyst for Turner Network Television (TNT). He appears on the network's NBA coverage during pre-game and halftime shows, in addition to special NBA events. He also appears on an original program for the Network entitled Inside the NBA, a post-game show during which Barkley, Ernie Johnson Jr. and Kenny Smith recap and comment on NBA games that have occurred during the day and also on general NBA affairs.
Barkley is known for his compulsive gambling. In an interview with ESPN's Trey Wingo, he revealed that he lost approximately $10 million through gambling.
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, 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."
Barkley spoke for many years of his Republican Party affiliation. In 1995, he considered running as a Republican candidate for Alabama's governorship in the 1998 election. However, in 2006, he altered his political stance. 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 Democrat as previously reported. "The Republicans are full of it," Barkley said, "The Democrats are a little less full of it." In 2002, Barkley released the book I May Be Wrong, But I Doubt It, which included editing and commentary by close friend Michael Wilbon. Three years later, Barkley released Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man?, which is a collection of interviews with leading figures in entertainment, business, sports, and government. Michael Wilbon also contributed to this book and was present at many of the interviews.