Charles Barkley is a man full of great stories involving multiple NBA legends. In a guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Barkley remembered a player that had the most significant impact on his career coming into the NBA from Auburn University. Moses Malone, who is somewhat underrated among fans today despite his remarkable NBA career, served as a mentor for Barkley, who came into a post-championship Sixers teams still contending for an NBA championship.
At that time, Moses was an experienced veteran and saw Barkley’s potential and was brutally honest with his approach to practice. When he came to the NBA as a rookie, Barkley was around 300-pounds and wasn’t getting much playing time in a team that was still hungry for success. When he asked Moses about guidance, he simply told him he was fat and lazy.
‘He is the most important person in my basketball career. I went to him and asked why I wasn’t playing, and he said it’s because I’m fat and lazy.’Charles Barkley, via Jimmy Kimmel Live
Moses helped him get back in shape by controlling Barkley’s unhealthy diet to a certain degree. Barkley is a known pizza lover, and unfortunately for him, he lived in the same building as Moses, and since he took him under his wing, he made sure Barkley didn’t order any pizza without him knowing. Barkley would often try to sneak some pizza inside his apartment, but every time it was Moses that welcomed him at the door.
This guy was the best ever. He took me under his wing and made me lose 50 pounds and made me a great player. We lived in the same building, and he told the security people anytime I order pizza that they call him. On two, three different occasions, I ordered pizza, and the next thing I know, I’m getting there, and there is this big 6’10” guy knocking on the door with the pizza in his hand. And he already has eaten it, so it wasn’t a lot of fun for me.Charles Barkley, via Jimmy Kimmel Live
Moses and Barkley played together for two seasons for the Sixers before Moses signed with the Washington Bullets. That was enough time for him to mentor Barkley and implement the work ethic he was missing. The competitiveness level on that Sixers squad was through the roof, which helped in Barkley’s development. After a slow start to his rookie season, Moses’ mentorship obviously paid dividends because Barkley started to play great basketball.
He finished his rookie season with solid individual stats, fitting well within the Sixers team that eventually made it to the ECF. Barkley later progressed into one of the NBA’s best players behind Michael Jordan.