Charles Barkley made a guest appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, where he talked about some of the personal things from his life and the NBA and his respect for Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Throughout the ’70s, the NBA was at its lowest point, and the league faced a lot of problems, with the biggest one being the popularity and ratings of the NBA during that time period. It all changed when Larry and Magic came to the NBA in 1979 and completely revolutionized the league, which immediately brought more viewers and fans.
Barkley said the league was in bad shape before they arrived with a lot of players that were drug addicts, there were constant fights, and the product itself wasn’t appealing. Barkley believes they helped other players and generations that came after them, so he will forever be grateful to them.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird are the two most important people in NBA history. If it weren’t for those guys, the NBA wouldn’t be what it is today. Obviously, Michael Jordan took it to another level, but I’m old enough to remember, before Magic and Larry got into the NBA, the league was too black, too many drugs it wasn’t making any money. So when these guys talk about who made the league, it was Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and I wanted to do something special for Magic because what he and Larry did we can’t put to words. You can’t say thank you enough.Charles Barkley, via Jimmy Kimmel Show
Barkley doesn’t want to leave out all the other legends of the game impacted on the popularity of the NBA. However, he thinks it all started with Magic and Bird while other players who came after them did their part in further elevating the NBA, making it one of the world’s most popular leagues.
I love LeBron, Kobe, Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing, and all those guys but the two most important figures are Magic and Bird. I told them it will be a privilege to be a part of the documentary.Charles Barkley, via Jimmy Kimmel Show
Everything Barkley said makes absolute sense, and when Magic and Bird joined the Celtics and Lakers, they revitalized the old rivalry between the two teams. The fans were engaged and the league built on top of that with more and more talented and charismatic players coming into the league bringing even more value. Most of the younger fans need to hear what Barkley said and understand there were players from the past that made the league a global product.