Legendary power forward and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Charles Barkley is one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball. Retired, he is now hosting Inside the NBA on Turner Network Television. During his NBA career, Barkley played for Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets.
Charles Barkley was born in Leeds, Alabama, in 1963. He attended Leeds High School but failed to be in varsity team in his junior and sophomore years, since he was 5 ft 10 in and weighed 220 pounds. However, he grew to 6 ft 4 in during the summer and made it to the team in his senior year. He averaged 19.1 points and 17.9 rebounds while leading his team to 26-3 record and made it to the state semifinals. Barkley’s performance failed to impress college scouts until he scored 26 points in a game against S. R. Butler High School.
Barkley for a scholarship from Auburn University, where he majored in business management. He stayed at Auburn for three years, averaging 14.8 points on 68.2% shooting, 9.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He quickly became an attraction, thanks to his style of play with frequent dunks and blocks. He played at the center position despite his size and being smaller than other players on that position. Auburn Tigers led by Barkley reached their first NCAA tournament in history. The university retired his jersey in 2001.
Career and Personal Life
In 1984, Barkley decided to cut his stay at Auburn one year short and applied for the NBA draft. He was picked fifth (Michael Jordan was second) by Philadelphia 76ers. In Philly, Barkley played with veterans Julius Irving, Moses Malone, and Maurice Cheeks, who took the NBA title in the previous season. Under the tutelage of Moses Malone, Barkley learned how to keep his weight in check, something he was struggling with in his college days. He was selected into All-Rookie team while averaging 14.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Two years later, Malone was traded and Barkley role in the team grew. In 1987, Julius Irving retired, and Barkley became the de facto franchise player for 76ers.
Barkley stayed in Philadelphia for eight years but failed to reach the NBA Finals, let alone win a title. After the team failed to advance to playoffs in 1992. Philly sent him to Phoenix in exchange for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang. In his first season with the new team, Barkley was voted MVP of the league and reached finals for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, they played against Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan and lost the series in six games. Barkley never played in league finals again.
He continued to play well but was often plagued by injuries stemming from his weight. In 1996, he was traded to Houston, where he joined Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in one final attempt to win the title. He stayed four years in Houston but failed to achieve his goal. The closest he came was in his first year, when the team reached Western Conference Finals but were eliminated by Utah Jazz in six games.
After finishing his playing career, Barkley joined Turner Network Television as a TV basketball analyst. Currently, he is co-hosting Inside NBA with Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson Jr., and Kenny Smith. The show is one of the most popular sports programs in the country. Barkley has won three Sports Emmy Awards for his contribution.
In 1989, Barkley married Maureen Blumhardt. They had a daughter in the same year, named Christiana.
Charles Barkley net worth is estimated at $45 million. The number would have been significantly higher had it not been for his gambling. According to his own words, he lost about $10 million on various bets and gambles in his life. He famously lost $2.5 million in just one night, playing blackjack in Las Vegas. Barkley often stated that he is aware that gambling is a bad habit, but since he can afford to lose, it isn’t a big deal. He said: “It’s not a problem. If you’re a drug addict or an alcoholic, those are problems. I gamble for too much money. As long as I can continue to do it I don’t think it’s a problem. Do I think it’s a bad habit? Yes, I think it’s a bad habit. Am I going to continue to do it? Yes, I’m going to continue to do it.” Hopefully, he won’t reach a point where it becomes a real problem.