Most sports fans can instantly recognize the name Charles Barkley. Whether they recognize him because of his exceptional NBA career as a dominant undersized power forward or his many unconventional remarks and statements, they will certainly be able to recall his name.
Sixers fans know him from his time with the team from 1984-1992, where he averaged 23.3 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Barkley made an immediate impact in his rookie year by putting up 14 points and 8.6 rebounds a game, which were good enough to earn him a spot on the NBA All Rookie Team. He achieved All-NBA Second Team honors as a sophomore, All-NBA First Team honors in his fourth year and was named an All-Star six times during his Sixers tenure.
The Sixers got all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals in his rookie season, where they unfortunately lost to the Boston Celtics in five games. Barkley took the Sixers to several postseason appearances. The team didn’t make the playoffs in 1992, which ultimately resulted in Barkley demanding a trade. He was traded from Philadelphia to the Phoenix Suns, where he became an MVP.
Besides the incredible feats Barkley achieved, he was also scrutinized for his off the court incidents. One of his most infamous moments was when Barkley accidently spit in the face of a little girl when he was allegedly aiming at a heckler during a game against the New Jersey Nets.
Barkley also got into many physical altercations on and off the court. One incident was even taken into legal matters. He was accused of punching a man in a bar fight but was ultimately cleared of all charges.
He has never been one to hold his tongue. Barkley made headlines all over the globe in 1993 when he talked about NBA players being role models in a Nike commercial “I’m not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids”.
These were all many controversies that kept Charles Barkley in the eyes of the media. Barkley still remains as a source of controversy to this day. He recently spoke to USA Today Sports about the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, saying that they were much more unpredictable and nerve wrecking than the NBA playoffs.
“Stanley Cup playoff hockey is the best thing going, and not just now. I think overtime hockey is the most nerve-wracking thing in the world. There’s nothing to compare it to. Let me explain it like this. Every broadcaster and sportscaster in the world knew seven months ago that the Cavs and Warriors were to going to play for the championship. There’s not a single person who had the Nashville Predators playing for the Stanley Cup championship.”
Barkley has been a fan of hockey since he was drafted by Sixers and came to Philadelphia, where he began following the Philadelphia Flyers. His favorite player, Ron Hextall, current General Manager of the Flyers, played for the Flyers from 1986-1992 and again in 1994-1999.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ron Hextall, one of the greatest goalies in Flyers’ history, is Charles Barkley’s favorite player. He was a tough goalie and is known for his grittiness in the rink. Like Barkley, he brought a lot of physicality to the game and often found himself sitting in the penalty box. Not to mention, Hextall never won the Stanley Cup as a player.
A more in depth look at Ron Hextall will be provided by Jamey Baskow, Philadelphia Sports Network writer for the Philadelphia Flyers, in part 2 of this 2 part segment.
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports