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YouTube Gold: Barkley At Auburn

Auburn was where we first learned that Charles Barkley could be great.

Auburn University vs Mississippi State University
College Basketball: Auburn Charles Barkley (34) in action, taking foul shot vs Mississippi State at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. Auburn, AL 3/2/1984 
Set Number: X29689 TK1 R3 F17

Charles Barkley ultimately became a Hall of Fame player and one of the true legends of the game. But that was no sure thing for the young Chuckster.

Barkley came from Leeds, Alabama, and like some other greats (Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and David Robinson for a few) he was a late bloomer. Just 5-10 as a junior, Barkley was 6-4 by his senior season. Even then, no one noticed him until the state tournament, when an Auburn aide told coach Sonny Smith that he had seen “a fat guy... who can play like the wind.”

Well you don’t ignore the wind so Auburn snapped up Barkley and he quickly emerged as an immense talent. At Auburn he struggled with weight, a problem which would follow him to the NBA.

But there was no denying the talent. Barkley was playing center at 6-6 in college and was killing his opponents. He was able to get a rebound in traffic then take it all the way to the other end to score. Essentially, he was a very early positionless player.

Weight remained a problem for Barkley for a while although it was partly self-inflicted. He said later that when he learned he was to be drafted by Philadelphia and only paid a pittance by today’s standards, that he tried to get too fat for Philly to be interested. But they drafted him, a reluctant and overweight Barkley signed, and then Moses Malone taught him how to be a professional.