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Charles Barkley: The Greatest Power Forward Ever
By Clayton Ruley
 

Editor's Note: This is for Charles Barkley and his selection into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. Although it was a foregone conclusion it still warranted my comments and him my love for his on the court actions over the years. He's not a perfect person and he's made mistakes but he's a refreshingly honest one and I'd rather have the latter than the prior! Enjoy!

"Barkley is like Magic {Johnson} and Larry {Bird}
in that they don't really play a position," "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."

                                                - Bill Walton in Slam Magazine


He was known as Sir Charles or earlier as the Round Mound of Rebound but I know Charles Wade Barkley as one thing: The best power forward of all time! Growing up in Philly when Barkley was doing his thing was
great because I like him was a undersized fat boy on the courts and had to show more than body to get anywhere. I couldn't have had a better role model than Barkley.

Listed at a generous 6-6, Barkley was more like 6-4 but you wouldn't know it from his game! He balled with all the greats and held his own from the beginning when he teamed with mentors Julius "Dr.J" Erving and Moses Malone in 1984-85 averaging 14.5 points on a veteran laden team. He showed the ability to run the floor and finish like a powerful guard and yet in half court sets I still haven't seen a player that could dip under an opposing player and draw a foul call and often get the bucket too! His sense of throwing the ball up to show that he was in the act of shooting was uncanny and probably got him an extra 5000 points!

He won the MVP in his first season (92-92) in Phoenix after eight seasons with the 76ers and lost to a great Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls teams by the closest of margins but it wasn't because of his effort. He absolutely used the Bulls and if "Thunder" Dan Majerle could have made some shots other than threes to keep the double teams off they could have won the whole thing. Barkley has made the All NBA teams 11 times in his career with five first team selections.

He was the All-Star MVP in 1991 and a two time gold medalist (92,96). In fact he lead the original Dream Team in scoring with 18 per game! He won the rebounding title in the 1986-87 season with a 14.6 average and is the shortest to do so. He has career averages of 22.1 points, 1.57 steals, 3.9 assists, 11.7 rebounds and shot 54 percent. There are only four players with at least 20,000 points 10,000 rebounds and 4000 assists and Barkley is there with players like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Karl Malone. Thats some impressive company to be held in.

But Charles was more than stats because I never felt he was trying to get stats more than he was trying to win. He defended players like Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson because he wanted to guard the best. Wasn't all league defense but it was the challenge and that's missing in alot of today's players.

Some people will argue that Karl Malone was better and they could try and validate it with numbers and hardware but Barkley rarely came up short in the
clutch (Remember his game winning shot against David Robinson in the 1993 Western Conference Semifinals?) and he certainly had no John Stockton or consistent head coach like Jerry Sloan alongside him for a
career. He left Philly because cheap owner Harold Katz wouldn't build a winner around him and by the time he reached Houston Hakeem and Drexler were set to retire.

While it would have been sweet for Barkley
to win a championship ring it doesn't diminish his accomplishments on the court. He was a damn great basketball player! Congrats to him and all of the Hall of Fame inductees: Dominique Wilkins, Geno Auriemma, Sambro Gamba, Joe Dumars and David Gavitt.

 

              

Any questions, comments, suggestions email Clayton at clayton@geoclan.com.

Barkley won his Most Valuable Player award in the 1992-93 season as a Phoenix Sun. The Jersey is classic don't ya think?

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Discuss Charles Barkley and the other Hall of Famers on GeoBoards

 

Although he wore the number 34 for most of his Sixers days, in the 1991-92 season Barkley wore number 32 for Earvin "Magic" Johnson who had just retired after announcing that he had HIV/AIDS.

 

 
 
 
 

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