DAR Sports: The Legacy of Charles Barkley

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-For many, Charles Barkley is the horribly opinionated, loudmouth, hilarious host of Inside the NBA alongside Shaq and others. For a generation currently immersed with Lebron, Westbrook, and Curry, that's who he remains and is known as unfortunately. However, the 5th overall pick in the 1984 draft is a true basketball legend. The man known simply as no. 34 for many, many years was one of my favorite players during the 90's and he built up a nice career over the decades. Starting his career with the Philadelphia 76ers, Barkley came straight out of Auburn with a chip on his shoulder, showcasing an aggression that would become standard in the NBA.

The power forward would exert dominance and show his potential in his rookie season with the 76ers, averaging 14.9 PPG and 11.1 RPG in the playoffs, and making the All Rookie First Team that year. In his 2nd season, Barkley became the starting power forward for the team and ended up with an amazing 25.0 PPG and 15.8 RPG on 58% shooting in the playoffs, to go with his 20.0 PPG and 12.8 RPG in the regular season. It was this season where he would be named to the All-NBA Second Team. Barkley went on a solid run each season and was named to be a NBA All Star 11 times throughout his season, and in his first season making the All-NBA First Team, he put up an amazing 28.3 PPG and 11.9 RPG on 58% shooting. Barkley was efficient and through his tenure in Philadelphia, he truly made his mark on the game of basketball. He would win All Star MVP in 1991 with 17 points and 22 rebounds and to many, he was robbed of a regular season MVP Award in 1990, finishing 2nd behind Magic Johnson, though he garnered more first place votes. Barkley in Philadelphia was a beast and he was in the prime of his career as the 90's started. However, for me, it would be his run with his next team that really captivated me as a fan.

I was a Chicago Bulls fan from jump, and red and black have remained my favorite colors over the years. However, when Barkley went to the Phoenix Suns, I can't lie, I was excited. My two favorite players in the early 90's as a very very young True were Barkley and Jordan. I didn't know much about the mechanics of the game yet, but I just knew those two players were something special. When the 1992-1993 season started, Barkley had seen a trade from the 76ers to the Lakers get shut down, and then ended up in Phoenix with the likes of Dan Majerle and Kevin Johnson. The 1992-1993 Suns team were labeled a team of destiny and rightfully so. They had all the tools necessary to win a championship and after a number of seasons either losing in the playoffs or missing the playoffs, it seemed like Barkley would eventually get his ring in Phoenix. After winning the regular season MVP Award that season and leading the Suns to a league best 62-20 record, Barkley then attempted to win his first title, but the Suns fell short in the Finals to the Bulls in 6 games. After Jordan retired following that series, many just knew that it was a matter of time before Barkley got his ring and I truly believe he would have.

However, injuries slowed him down, and would hurt the potential of the Suns and their title hopes. After a few unsuccessful seasons(still solid and winning records, but no titles), he got traded to Houston, where he had one last chance for a ring. Unfortunately, role players like Robert Horry and Sam Cassell were traded for Barkley and the road became much tougher for the Rockets. Having won back to back titles, the Rockets seemed to have a good chance to get another title, but the return of Michael Jordan and injuries/age began slowing down a majority of the Rockets team. Still, Barkley would end up with a career high 33 rebounds in his first game in Houston, and the Rockets managed to get to the Western Conference Finals. The Jazz however would be too strong to overcome that season. The following seasons would be more injury plagued and eventually Barkley would have to walk away from the game of basketball. However, his legacy is that of a true Hall of Famer and he is without a doubt one of the greatest players to never win a title and a legend. Today, the team talks Barkley, and what we've all felt about him through his career. Let's hear from them.

Charles Barkley as a player, in my opinion, is one of the greatest players in the NBA to never win a title. An undersized power forward who dominated the boards, was physical, intimidating, and played as if he was 6’10 or taller. Watching Barkley growing up in the 90’s, you could see how good of a player he was and it was great to see and rather inspiring in my view. He was a guy who didn’t care what he said and was often criticized for that too. I think the real shame was that he never won a NBA title and played on some pretty damn good teams that contended for one. The Suns and Rockets are the ones that came to the top of my head. The closest he’s gotten to the title was that 1993 NBA Finals appearance against Chicago.

Looking at him now, many view him as one of the NBA on TNT crew, bringing his puzzling yet funny analysis, as well as his pranks and jokes with Shaq and Kenny Smith. I guess many who don’t know Charles for his basketball skills when he played view him as a comic relief before and after NBA Games. One thing is for sure and that is that Barkley has kept his popularity sky high during and after his career, and for me that’s great to see. I’m one of the people who remember Barkley for his outstanding NBA Career and presence on the court. Maybe if the Lakers would’ve pulled the trigger on that deal for Barkley, He would have a ring right now.

When I hear the name "Charles Barkley", I think of a controversial player. Drafted in the historic ’84 Draft with players like Jordan, Olajuwon, and Stockton, he had something to prove. He was consistent with his scoring on the offensive side with his strength and ability to finish with 22.1 points per game in the regular season over his career. He always took “smart” shots on the floor and he was versatile on both sides of the ball. Barkley had the strength to intimidate small forwards, but looked mismatched with power forwards and centers. Regardless of his height, at 6”6, he was a great rebounder and even lead the league in the ’87 season.

I say that he is controversial with his personality and antics on the court mostly. He was notorious for his aggression on the court, leading to technical fouls. He was very outspoken and that was controversial to some listeners. Known for some on-court fight with players and off-court behavior, who knew if Barkley would change his ways. He’s a great player and one of the greats. It’s a shame he didn’t earn a ring.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal 
-To me, outside of his great basketball career on the court, I really appreciated the whole "I Am Not A Role Model" campaign, because it was honest. Athletes aren't role models. They're gifted athletes who go out and try to win. They shouldn't be held to a higher standard because of what they've accomplished professionally, and while some feel that it was a cop out from Sir Charles, I think it easily rings true that people place far too much emphasis on celebrities for these roles. That's unfair. When I think of Barkley, that's the first thing that comes to mind and while he's had some controversial incidents and a short temper, it was a sign of his passion to win and be at the top of the game. We're missing that in a lot of ways today in the game of basketball. That drive. That anger. That passion. Sir Charles embodied all of that. The legend lives on still in a different manner today, but that doesn't take away from his legendary career on the court.



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