Barkley took bite out of NBA
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Barkley was chairman of the boards
By Bob Carter
Special to ESPN.com
Feb. 10, 1991 - Few people dared to get in the path of Karl Malone when the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Utah forward barreled to the basket. Charles Barkley, playing for the East squad, took the dare in the opening minutes of the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte and leveled Malone, drawing a foul.
"He set the tone for the way the game was going to be played," said West guard Magic Johnson.
Barkley, showing few signs of the stress fracture in his foot suffered a month earlier, shunned the idea that this was merely a walk-through showcase for offensive skills. The Philadelphia 76ers forward grabbed 22 rebounds -- the most in 24 years in the classic -- scored 17 points and had four assists in leading the East to a 116-114 victory. He was voted the game's Most Valuable Player.
Among the highlights was a full-court drive climaxed by a trademark basket-jarring, two-handed dunk.
Odds 'n' EndsAt seven, Barkley suffered a mild concussion when, confident he could fly, he climbed 20 feet to his rooftop and jumped off.
Growing up without his father, who left the family home while Charles was an infant, Barkley often had to care for his two younger brothers, John and Darryl, while his mother worked two jobs.
Barkley couldn't afford to go to summer basketball camps as a youngster. When he didn't make the varsity basketball team in high school as a 10th grader, he shot baskets late into the night and practiced jumping over a four-foot fence. He made the team the next season and starred as a senior, averaging 19 points and 18 rebounds.
In his only NCAA Tournament game, he had 23 points and 17 rebounds for Auburn as the Tigers were upset by Richmond 72-71 in 1984.
Barkley was cut from the 1984 U.S, Olympic team by coach Bobby Knight.
Barkley married Maureen Blumhardt, who is white, in 1989. The mixed marriage was not popular in some sections of Philadelphia. The couple's daughter, Christiana, was also born in 1989.
Barkley said he was misquoted in places in his 1991 autobiography, "Outrageous," then later said he had erred by not reading a pre-publication copy.
On June 17, 1992, Barkley was traded to Phoenix, made up his mind to play for the original U.S. Olympic Dream Team and was acquitted on a battery charge in Milwaukee. He had gotten into a physical dispute with a man outside a bar the previous December.
The Suns dealt Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry to Philadelphia for Barkley.
He is a longtime buddy of Michael Jordan, and after the retirements of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Barkley became the NBA's No. 2 star (behind Jordan). Barkley said he was closer to Jordan, with whom he often golfed, than any other player and that they frequently talked on the phone during their playing days.
Barkley led the Dream Team in scoring at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.
In 1992, he angered fans by throwing an elbow against a player from Angola who weighed 177 pounds -- about 80 pounds less than him. On the other hand, he won over fans by making himself so accessible on the streets of Barcelona.
Barkley's passing skills sometimes were overlooked. He averaged 3.9 assists game in his NBA career, a high number for a forward. His top was 5.1 in his MVP season of 1992-93.
His heft induced many nicknames. Among them: The Crisco Kid, Ton of Fun, Food World and Boy Gorge.
After receiving an autograph, a woman in a bar in Scottsdale, Ariz., told Barkley she wanted another. When he refused, she tore up the first autograph and threw it in his face. Barkley responded by pouring a beer over her head. Later, she said she was out of line.
Three other incidents -- two in Phoenix and one in Cleveland -- in which punches were allegedly thrown didn't result in any punishment for Barkley.
In October 1997 in Orlando, Barkley threw someone who was antagonizing him through a window. Barkley agreed to pay the man a reported $75,000.
While the NBA didn't suspend Barkley, it threatened to end his career unless he hired a bodyguard. He did.
Retirement often was on Barkley's mind late in his career. After a one-point, seventh-game playoff loss to Houston in 1995, he said he wanted to quit. Danny Ainge, a friend and Suns teammate, was most responsible for persuading him to keep playing.
In January 1999, Barkley deferred part of his salary so the Rockets could acquire Scottie Pippen in a trade. After the season, Pippen said Barkley didn't show him the desire to win and mentioned Barkley's sorry fat butt. Three days later, Houston traded Pippen to Portland.
While Barkley was selected for 11 All-Star Games, he missed the 1994 and
1997 contests because of injury. In his nine appearances, he averaged 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in 23.2 minutes.
Barkley followed politics and frequently offered social commentary. He said he would like to run for governor in Alabama later in life.
Barkley was known for his generosity, amiability and being a neatness freak. He often gave gifts or money to teammates and was a perennial member of the NBA's all-interview team.
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