Charles Barkley will always say what he thinks. He is honest and direct, and those are the main reasons Barkley is one of TV’s favorite personalities. Things were no different in his playing days.
When you think of Chuck, you think of Philly and Phoenix. He spent his first eight years in Philly, learning from Moses Malone and then leading the 76ers. Subsequently, he went to the Suns and had his most successful years, reaching the Finals but losing his buddy MJ.
The third act of his career came in Houston. He spent four years as a Rocket, the same as a Sun, but given his age, this part of his career is the last to come to mind. Most players have their final chapter away from the franchise you identify them with. Kobe and the Lakers epitomized that to the fullest. MJ played for the Wizards, Scottie was with the Blazers, and Hakeem was a Toronto Raptors member.
They may be out of their prime but still can hoop and make a buck. The problem with superstars is their expectations of minutes played and dollars earned are always slow to catch up with their production on the court, so they change teams. Usually, injuries start to pile up, and then there are good days and bad days.
I guess this is the struggle between romanticism and reality. As much as the idea of a player you like playing for only one team seems appealing, the reality of the situation is different. Just put yourself in their shoes. You know you are on the decline but still can play the game you love. What will you do? History teaches us there are two general scenarios.
Scenario no.1 is you make the money move. A team out there will pay more and give you more minutes than the team you are on, and why not milk it for all it’s worth. Perfectly understandable.
Scenario no.2 is the ring move. If you are lucky, a contending team can use you as their 6th man or a significant role player, and you get the chance to get a ring. Think Gary Peyton on the Miami Heat. He wasn’t the most valuable player on that team, but he was instrumental in their success.
Today, we’re going down the memory lane to a very good game for Sir Charles in 1999. The Rockets were in LA playing against Shaq and Kobe, and Chuch had a solid game. That was a Rockets team with a “young” core of Olajuwon, Barkley, and Pippen. They may not have been in their prime, but still had the attitude and edge of champions. Sir Charles was playing great and pulled out his best moves.
Pay particular attention to Chuck, letting the ref know what he thinks about the no-call on Kobe’s block and how he responded when the crowd started heckling him. We need more of this in today’s NBA!