“Barkley is like a superhero who strolls out of the rubble of a collapsed building, calmly, brushing dust off his shoulders as if nothing ever happened.” This quote from Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated in 2008 really hits the nail on the head during Barkley’s career. Charles Barkley is a man of charisma, emotion and passion. Off the court he was a nice and warm person but do not get in his way on the court unless you want to be trampled. He set many records during his career with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. He had a long and successful career that has helped him get into the broadcasting role which he has today. To honor his NBA legacy and 16-years playing professional basketball, the following is a list of 20 things you didn’t know about Charles Barkley.
Began his Career with the 76ers
Barkley started his NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers. When he arrived, the team was just a year removed from the NBA title and had a stocked veteran roster including, Dr. J and Moses Malone. For Barkley, he did not need a major transition into professional basketball. This was evident during his rookie year when he averaged 14 points and 8.6 rebounds per game thus earning his way onto the NBA All-Rookie Team. During this same year, the 76ers advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals where they lost to the Boston Celtics under the leadership of Larry Bird. Despite Barkley having several monumental games, the Celtics just outplayed the 76ers enough to beat them.
Born in Leeds, Alabama
Born in Leeds, Alabama, only ten miles from Birmingham, Barkley attended Leeds High School. As a junior, he already stood 5’10” and weighed 220 pounds. Ironically, he failed to make the varsity team and was named as a backup. However, during the summer between junior and senior year, he shot up to 6’4” thus earning him a starting position on the varsity team. During his senior year he averaged 19.1 points and 17.9 boards per game to lead his team to a 26-3 record en route to the state semifinals. Despite his impressive numbers, he did not gain any attention from the college scouts until the high schools semi’s where he scored 26 points.
Barkley was born underweight and with numerous health problems. He had so many issues that at six weeks old, baby Charles was given a blood transfusion. Luckily for him, his family and the basketball world, he recovered and grew to be 6-foot, 6-inch 250 pound power forward during his prime. He specialized in rebounded and that was mainly due to his aggressiveness on the court as well as his size. This was a long way from his birth weight.
Chewed up His Remote Control
When Barkley used to watch television, and he still may do this, he was gnaw on the remote, especially if he was watching an important basketball game. He chewed up one of his remotes so bad that it eventually became completely unusable. Maybe he was nervous, maybe he was anxious at the outcome of the game, who knows. It is never easy to constantly be in the spotlight and have the media talking about you on a regular basis. Nevertheless, I could see him chewing up players on the court, but the remote seems a little overboard.
Didn’t Graduate with his High School Class
Few people know that the charismatic, charming professional basketball player-turned broadcaster did not graduate with his high school class due to one failure in Spanish. Luckily, this is not a skill that Sir Charles needed to be a professional basketball player. Don’t ask him anytime soon to recite the alphabet in Spanish as you do not want to poke a grumpy bear.
Dunked so Hard He Moved the Basket
Unlike many 6-foot, 4-inch players in the NBA, Barkley was a nasty dunker. He once dunked the ball so hard into the hoop that he shifted the 2,240-pound basket support around six-inches to the right. Keep in mind, these supports are secured into the court with concrete, he was so strong that he moved it half of a foot. The league doesn’t refer to them as power forwards for no reason.
Had an Infectious Boil
Barkley gained around 30-pounds between college and when he showed up at the Philadelphia 76er’s training came. This is common with rookies who are entering the league. As a result, he had to run up and down the floor every night to shed those pounds. As a result of his rapid weight gain, he also showed up at camp with an infectious boil in his armpit that had to immediately be lanced. Unfortunately for his teammates and his opponents on the court, he had to forswear deodorant for one week while the lanced boil healed.
Holds Five NBA Records
During his entire career, Barkley was so good on the court that he holds five NBA records. During the regular season, on March 4th, 1987 against the New York Knicks, Barkley set the record for most offensive rebounds during a half of basketball with 13. That same game, he tied a record held by Larry Smith of the Golden State Warriors of most offensive rebounds in a quarter with 11. One Jun 5th, 1993 during the playoffs, Barkley broke the record for most free throws made in a half with 19. During the 1986 Eastern Conference Semifinals, he set the record for most free throw attempts in a 7-game series with 100. That same series, he also set the record for most turnover in a 7-game series with 37.
Jumped Over a Five-Foot Fence as a Kid
When Barley wasn’t playing basketball or training for basketball as a kid, he used the time to burn off extra energy and calories by rigorously jumping back and forth over a five-foot fence that surrounded his home. Ironically, in modern times, there are similar exercises used by Cross Fit companies to improve endurance, speed and work the leg muscles. Barkley was way ahead of the fitness times, even as a kid.
Known for Compulsive Gambling
During an interview several years ago with ESPN’s Trey Wingo, Barkley admitted to have losing around $10 million in gambling over the years. He further admitted to have losing around $2.5 million during a six-hour period while playing blackjack. Although he admits to the problem, he further claims that it is not serious because he can afford to do it. Despite the major losses, he admits to winning on several occasions including a $700,000 victory in Las Vegas playing blackjack and betting on the Indianapolis Colts to beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. He admits that he does it for the excitement and it’s not about the money.
Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History
Despite his on-court demeanor and, sometimes, reckless behavior, Barkley was named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He played in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games winning two gold medals as a member of the Dream Team. He is also a two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, once in 2006 for his career and once in 2010 as a member of the Dream Team. In the year 2000, Barkley retired as the fourth NBA player in history to achieve 20,000 points, 10,000 boards and 4,000 assists. He now has a successful career as a television NBA personality and analyst.
Nickname for His College Girlfriend was Knucklehead
Of course this was a mere love name for his girlfriend but he called her knucklehead. Perhaps she did not make the right choices or did not see the obvious and that is why he called her knucklehead. Barkley has never truly indicated why he had that pet name for her.
Nicknamed Round Mound of Rebound
During his three seasons at Auburn, Barkley struggled to control his weight despite excelling by leading the SEC in rebounding every year. He was a crowd-pleaser by exciting the fans with blocked shots and slam dunks. It was not uncommon to have Barkley grab a defensive rebound and take it all the way to the hoop and finish with a two-handed dunk. As a result of his physical size and the skills he showcased, Barkley earned the appropriate nickname of The Round Mound of Rebound.
Now an Announcer and Writer
After retiring from the NBA, Barkley signed up in 2003 to be the host of a talk show on TNT called Listen Up! Although the show is no longer on the air, it helped him get his foot in the door for future broadcasting. He currently works for the TNT Network as a studio analyst for Inside the NBA. In 2002, Barley also published a booked titled, I May Be Wrong but I Doubt It, which is fitting for his on-court antics over the years.
On the Dream Team Twice
In 1992, Barley joined the United States Olympic Dream Team to compete against the best players other countries had to offer. The Dream Team dominated and did not lose a game thus earning them the gold medal in Olympic Basketball. In 1996, he was then appointed to the on the Olympic Dream Team again and they dominated the sport for the second straight Olympics thus earning them a second gold medal.
Teamed up With Schwarzenegger for a Japanese Company
In the 1990’s, Charles Barkley teamed up with Arnold Schwarzenegger to be the spokespeople for a Japanese Ramen noodle company. Apparently they felt so strongly about the product that they decided to speak to the consumers on their behalf. Believe it or not, this is not a common phenomenon for celebrities to represent food and other everyday item. Sylvester Stallone partook in several endorsements for ham and Robert De Niro broke his own ban on endorsements to promote a specific type of light bulb. This was all during the peak of their careers so none them needed the money.
Tried to Drive Through the Gate after Practice
One time after practice, Barkley was so eager to get home to eat lunch, he attempted to drive through the gate after practice because it was closed. Luckily before he broke down the gate, one of the security personnel came out and opened it for him. This is not surprising given that these giant athletes who are training all day are starving after practice. If there is an obstacle standing in their way from their food, they will run right through it, just like a player on the court.
Used the Name Homer Simpson When Checking into Hotels
On the court, Barkley was one of the most serious players around. He played with a lot of passion, drive and emotion because basketball was his livelihood. However, off the court, he was a fun-loving prankster. Throughout almost his entire career, when checking into hotels, he would use the name Homer Simpson. It protected his identity but also acted as a prank for the hotel. Barkley would receive a variety of reactions until he actually checked-in and was recognized by the staff who was familiar with his antics.
Wrote Off NBA Fines on His Taxes
Barkley was one of the meanest guys on the court. He was constantly getting into skirmishes and arguments with other players during game time. As a result of this behavior, he received tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of fines during his career. He must have had an excellent accountant because he was able to write these transgressions off as “ordinary expenses” on his taxes. Although he had to pay the fine, it lowered his taxable income so he did not have to pay as much in taxes back to the government; genius idea.