Philadelphia 76ers: There Will Never Be Another Charles Barkley

To the younger generation, Charles Barkley is the bald, loud guy on TNT constantly trading insults with Shaquille O’Neal. But to the fans of the Philadelphia 76ers, he might be the best that ever played the position. Let me explain.

When top PFs are mentioned people tend to place Karl Malone, Dirk NowitzkiKevin Garnett, and maybe Kevin McHale over him. But those are the ones who only pay attention to rings and not what he accomplished on the court.

To begin, let’s address the elephant in the room. No, he has never won a championship and maybe that knocks him down a peg. But Karl Malone is often viewed as a top-tier player and he has no rings either. Maybe people believe he didn’t want it enough as Scottie Pippen has gone on record as saying that’s what Michael Jordan told him before he and Barkley became teammates in Houston.

That’s nonsense and I’m not jumping to his defense because I was born and raised in Philly, but because I was able to see Barkley in his prime. I saw the hunger he had when he came in as a rookie on a team that featured Maurice CheeksMoses Malone, and Julius Erving. That team was fresh off a championship and full of veterans and he played his role to a tee while learning first hand from Malone and Erving what type of player the City of Brotherly Love wanted.

They were in need of a hustler.

Barkley was all of that and more when he finally took the throne from Erving and Malone. Mind you, he was still considered the 3rd wheel. But in his second season in 1985, he averaged 20 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. Yes, he was that good at the age of 23. Now read back from the left and let me know if anything or things should happen to stand out. Did you see it? Maybe you’re a bit confused so let me break something down to you. 13 REBOUNDS per game on a team that featured Malone.

To make the numbers even more staggering is that Barkley, without shoes on stands about as tall as the average NBA PG. He was favorably listed at 6-foot-6, but he stood at 6-foot-4. Name another player that size who averaged anywhere close to six boards a game. He averaged way more than that over his whole career. But yet, Malone (Karl), Garnett and Nowitzki are listed above him on most PF list.

Charles Barkley never guided the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals as there was always a piece to the puzzle missing from the team. While Barkley would do all he could for the city and the team, the Sixers felt it was time for a change. At the moment, the Sixers have all but stood loyal to their leaders but the departure of Barkley was a complete stab in the back.
Philly is a blue-collar city. The residents work and cheer hard. Barkley, despite his issues off the court, was just as beloved as Allen Iverson was and still is to this day in Philadelphia. The fights in bars, and the spitting episode were things that didn’t show him in a good light, but we took the good with the bad with Barkley. There was no social media back then but we knew he did it. And yet, the city loved the attention. They loved that we had a player who was just as wild as the fans. But the organization felt it was time for a youth movement in 1992 and off to the Phoenix Suns he went.

In Phoenix, his first year at that, he took the Suns to the NBA Finals where they would lose to Jordan and the Chicago Bulls 4-2. But Barkley made sure the NBA and the Sixers knew that he was serious about being a leader. Barkley won league MVP that year with averages of 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. During that Finals run, he torched the Bulls for 27 points,13 rebounds and six assists per game. But still, they say he didn’t have the drive to win.

When his days in Phoenix were over he headed to the Houston Rockets where he would team up with Hakeem Olajuwon, and Pippen but they were not able to get that ring as a unit. Barkley retired from the NBA in 1999 with career averages of 22 points and 12 rebounds. Great numbers, but even better when you consider he did that with PG height.

I’m not here to knock the career of Malone (Karl) but let’s put their averages together.

Malone- 25 ppg- Barkley- 22 ppg

Malone- 10 reb.- Barkley- 12 reb.

Malone- 52% FG- Barkley- 54%

Charles Barkley and The Philadelphia 76ers Were The Perfect Match

Yes, Malone may have scored more points than Barkley but the all-around game, that edge has to go to Sir Charles.

Before him, we’ve never seen anything like his style and we still haven’t seen anything like him today. When players like LeBron James and all these so-called stretch 4’s hesitate to play in the post then you know how much the game has changed and why yesterday’s players don’t respect today’s current crop.

For all the off-the-sleeve remarks that he may make about anyone, no matter how the public views them, he is who he is and has never changed to gain acceptance.

The reason many hate Charles Barkley is the same reason many love him. For us in Philadelphia, just like Iverson, he was the one who got away that we still love.

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