Recipient of Schick Award, 1986, 1987, and 1988; member of All-Star team, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992; named to All-NBA first team, 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991; named 1989-90 player of the year by the Sporting News; named Most Valuable Player of the 1991 All-Star game; Olympic gold medal for men's basketball, 1992; named NBA Most Valuable Player, 1993.
Barkley has emerged as the one thing he never wanted to be: a role model for the rugged individualists of the 1990s. "The majority of people in the world don't do what it takes to win," Barkley told the New York Times Magazine. "Everyone is looking for the easy road.... I made up my mind a long time ago to be successful at whatever I did. If you want to be successful, can't nobody stop you."
One last gasp for that ring was breathed into Barkley when, before the 1998-99 season, the Rockets acquired Scottie Pippen, the owner of six rings earned with Chicago. Barkley played 42 games in the lockout-shortened season and the Rockets went out in the first round of the playoffs to the Los Angeles Lakers. The mixture of Barkley and Pippen proved to be oil and water. In the offseason, the two exchanged harsh words through the media and Pippen was dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers.
On Dec. 8, 1999, he suffered a ruptured quadriceps tendon in his left knee, which sidelined him until the final game of the season. Ironically, this injury occurred against his former team, the 76ers, in Philadelphia, the town where years earlier he had entered the collective basketball consciousness of NBA fans.
Although over the next two seasons Barkley struggled with nagging injuries, he maintained a high level of play. The Suns reached the conference semifinals in 1994 and 1995, but lost to the Houston Rockets, the eventual NBA champs. And after four seasons in the Valley of the Sun, Barkley's time had set in Phoenix and he was traded to the Rockets.
"Barkley is like Magic [Johnson] and Larry [Bird] in that they don't really play a position," Bill Walton said in a SLAM magazine issue ranking NBA greats. "He plays everything; he plays basketball. There is nobody who does what Barkley does. He's a dominant rebounder, a dominant defensive player, a three-point shooter, a dribbler, a playmaker."
But he came into his own during the 1987-1988 season, when he was named to the All-NBA team for the first of four consecutive years. In 1992, Barkley joined the U.S. "Dream Team" at the Olympics. After helping the team win the gold medal, he was sent to the Phoenix Suns where he won the MVP award and led the club to the 1993 NBA finals. In the championship round, the Suns were defeated by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games.
The 76ers were just a year removed from an NBA title and stocked with a veteran roster that included Julius Erving and Moses Malone. For Barkley there was little transition to the pros. His rookie year, he averaged 14 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and was named to the NBA All Rookie Team.
Barkley’s compassion and activism can be traced back to his roots in the rural South. Born on February 20, 1963 in Leeds, Alabama, Charles Wade Barkley played basketball at Leeds High School and caught the attention of Auburn University scouts at the state semifinals his senior year. Barkley was recruited by head coach Sonny Smith and played basketball at Auburn for three years. Physical, fiery and fiercely competitive, number 34 outplayed taller and quicker opponents because of his strength, agility and passion for the game. Barkley led his conference in rebounding for three years, earning the moniker “The Round Mound of Rebound.” He was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 1984 and received three All-SEC selections, one Second Team All-American selection and one Third Team All-American selection.
Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Charles Barkley has followed up his Hall of Fame basketball career with an Emmy Award-winning television run. A consummate entertainer, Barkley has evolved into a pop culture icon who commands a diverse audience that may not always agree with his opinions, but respects his ability to tell it like it is. Never one to dodge controversy or consequences, Barkley shoots from the hip and speaks from the heart.