Charles Wade Barkley, born February 20, 1963, is a retired National Basketball Association forward. During his 16-year career, he played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. During his career, he was known for his great ability to grab rebounds despite his relatively short stature, earning him the nickname "Round Mound of Rebound", as well as his occasionally confrontational but colorful personality. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He is currently known for voicing his sometimes humorous opinion on controversial topics such as race, generally from a left of center viewpoint, although he has expressed a few right of center opinions as well. Barkley is currently a studio analyst for NBA games on TNT.
Barkley played three seasons at Auburn, where he established himself as an elite rebounder. As of 2009, he still ranks in the school's top ten in total rebounds. He was named the Player of the Year in the Southeastern Conference in his final year.
Philadelphia 76ers (1984-1992)
Barkley was selected with the fifth pick of the 1984 NBA draft by the 76ers. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie team after averaging 14 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in the 84-85 season. In his third year, he became a team leader following the trade of Moses Malone's trade to Washington. That year he became the shortest player to win the rebounding title (14.6rpg) and was named to the first of what would be eleven consecutive All-Star teams. In 87-88, Barkley was named a team co-captain and average 28.3 points per game, good enough for fourth in the league. He was named to the All-NBA First Team for his efforts. But even with Barkley's strong season, the 76ers would fall short of the playoffs for the first time since he joined the team. He was named MVP of the 90-91 NBA All-Star game after scoring 17 points and picking up 22 rebounds in the East's 116-114 win over the West. In March 1991, he received notoriety for attempting to spit at a heckler. He missed the heckler and accidentally hit a child in the crowd. The NBA suspended Barkley for one game and fined him $10,000. Barkley said of the incident, "You do stupid things, and stuff like that happens. I just have to live with a stupid mistake." Following the 1992 season, Barkley was traded to the Suns in exchange for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry.
Barkley was one of the first ten players chosen to be part of the "Dream Team" at the 1992 Olympic games. Barkley remarked, "It's a great opportunity; it's not often you have a chance to make history. No matter how many Teams go in the future, the first one is special. It will always be the answer to a trivia question." He would get into controversy after being involved in a physical altercation with a player from the Angola team. Barkley said, "Somebody hits me, I'm going to hit him back. Even if it does look like he hasn't eaten in a couple weeks" He would go on to lead the team in scoring at 18 points per game as they easily won the Gold medal.
Phoenix Suns (1992-1996)
Barkley's success continued in his first season in Phoenix. He led the team in scoring as they went to the NBA Finals before falling in six games to the Chicago Bulls. That offseason, he encountered more controversy when he declared that he wasn't a role model during a Nike commercial. The comments would receive criticism from former vice president Dan Quayle and others. Charles had another strong year in 93-94 and the Suns would make the playoffs before falling in the second round to the Rockets in seven games. The Suns wouldn't make it past the second round of the playoffs for the rest of his time with the team. In August 1996, Barkley was traded to the Rockets for Sam Cassell, Robert Horry, Mark Bryant and Chucky Brown.
Houston Rockets (1996-2000)
The Rockets acquired Barkley in hopes of winning another championship. They felt putting Barkley alongside Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon would allow them to beat the un-retired Michael Jordan's Bulls. His first year there was a struggle as he missed 29 games to injury or suspension. The team would manage to make it to the Western Conference finals before losing to the Utah Jazz. Prior to his second year in Houston, Barkley got into an altercation with a man at a bar. He ended up throwing the man through the bar's front window. Barkley claimed that the man threw a "glass of ice" at him which lead to the fight. Barkley said, "I'm going to defend myself ... at all times. I've made that clear in my years in the NBA. If you bother me, I'm going to whup you." In 1998 the Rockets acquired Scottie Pippen from Chicago to replace the retiring Drexler. The team would make the playoffs in the 98-99 lockout shortened season, but lost in the first round to the Los Angeles Lakers. After the season ended, the Rockets traded Pippen to the Portland Trail Blazers and Barkley announced that he would retire following the 1999-2000 season. Barkley would play in only 20 games that year due to injuries and the team would go 34-48 to miss the playoffs. Barkley announced his retirement on April 20, 2000.
Off the Court
Barkley has been involved with several charity efforts, including the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the United Service Organization. In 1995, he bought Christmas gifts for twenty homeless children. Barkley said, "My charity work has always been my focus. I think that I have been blessed. I've been sent to help poor people, and I try to do it through my foundation...And what I've been doing for the last few years, I'm giving a million dollars to my high school, a million dollars to my college, a million dollars to another school to help poor people go to college, because without education, you cannot be successful."
Barkley on Auburn hiring Gene Chizik as head football coach:
"I think race was the No. 1 factor. You can say it's not about race, but you can't compare the two résumés and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst résumé."
Barkley on rebounding:
"I always laugh when people ask me about rebounding techniques. I've got a technique. It's called just go get the damn ball."
Barkley on Democrats:
"Well, when I went off to college, the guys I used to hang with were pumping gas and voting Democrat. Today they're still pumping gas and voting Democrat. Guess the Democrats didn't do much for them."
Barkley on Tonya Harding:
"I heard Tonya Harding is calling herself the Charles Barkley of figure skating. I was going to sue her for defamation of character, but then I realized I have no character."
After retiring from the NBA:
"I'm just what America needs - another unemployed black man."
- "NBA Fines Barkley for Spitting on Fans"; Deseret News, Marcy 29, 1991
- "Barkley arrested after bar scuffle"; Augusta Chronicle, October 27, 1997