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YouTube Gold: The Great Charles Barkley

Barkley was a surreal talent

Charles Barkley of the Houston Rockets reacts to the Rockets’ victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Compaq Center in Houston, Texas, 13 May, 1999. Barkley had 30 points and 23 rebounds in the Rockets 102-88 victory. 
Photo credit should read PAUL BUCK/AFP via Getty Images

It’s kind of ironic how successful Charles Barkley has been as an announcer because it somewhat overshadows what a brilliant basketball player he was.

Born and raised in Leeds, Alabama, Barkley trained partly by jumping over a five-foot fence repeatedly.

He also ate and ate and ate, and by the time he got to Auburn, he weighed about 300 lbs.

When he got to Philadelphia, Moses Malone told him that he was fat and lazy which led to Barkley (who reportedly ate even more than usual to keep Philadelphia from drafting him - it didn’t work) dropping 50 lbs. and heading to immortality.

He was only 6-5, but he became one of the greatest power forwards of all time. He leveraged his strength, quickness and leaping ability to punish much taller players. Watching him grab a rebound and take it coast-to-coast was basketball nirvana.

He also played on the Dream Team in 1992 and again in 1996.

Still, his outsized personality at times overshadowed his greatness, just as it obscures it now. That’s too bad, because Barkley was an amazing basketball player.