Charles Barkley is celebrating the big 5-0 on Wednesday.
The Hall of Fame power forward spent the majority of his career with the Philadelphia 76ers (1984-1992). He later spent time with the Suns (1992-1996) and then closed his career with the Houston Rockets (1996-2000). He averaged 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game over his entire career.
Perhaps one of the more remarkable elements about Barkley was that he rebounded with the best in the world at a relatively undersized height (for the power forward position) of 6-6. He averaged a league-best 14.6 rebounds in 1986-'87. He averaged a career-best 28.3 points in 1987-'88. He also led the Suns to an NBA Finals appearance in 1993.
But he became a fan favorite with his always colorful and bluntly honest answers to media questions. That tendency led to an equally colorful career as an in-studio basketball analyst for TNT's NBA coverage.
"I have a lot of memories," said Scott Brooks, a former Houston Rocket who is currently the head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder. "I roomed with him for a couple of months, but we're not going to go there," Brooks joked.
"I remember him as one of the greatest players of all time," Brooks said. "He was a great player, a great friend, just one of the best ever. The rebounds, he does everything at a high level. His basketball IQ was high. He's a competitor. He's one of the best players of all time. It's funny. I was watching TNT the other night and my son was watching the podcast with me and said, 'Hey, that's the Weight Watcher guy!' He doesn't even know him as Charles Barkley the Hall of Famer. That's pretty funny, but he is one of the greatest players of all time."
“There’s not a nicer person on this planet than Charles Barkley,” former Sixers president Pat Croce told CSNPhilly.com one day last fall. “He’s a special person.”
More high praise came from a former coach to CSNPhilly.com.
“He’s a Hall of Fame player, so people have to appreciate it, but he’s special among that group,” said Jim Lynam, who coached Barkley for part of his Sixers' tenure. “That’s how talented he was. And the word right there along with it is ‘unique.’ On Noah’s Ark, two of everything. Well, I’ve got news for you -- that partner fell off the edge of the boat. There’s one of him. One.”
And that very unique Charles Barkley hits the half century milestone on Wednesday.