In ’96 the Phoenix Suns traded Charles Barkley to the Rockets. In his first regular-season game with the Rockets Barkley faced off against his former team in Phoenix and Charles brought his a-game with a career-high 33 rebounds.
Standing at 6’5 Barkley came up with one of the best games of his life, grabbing 33 rebounds and scoring 20 points to lead the visiting Houston Rockets to a 110-95 win over the Phoenix Suns.
The 33 rebounds were the most in an NBA game since Rony Seikaly had 34 for the Miami Heat against Washington on March 3, 1993.
Barkley, who was traded to the Rockets over the summer after demanding a trade, received a hero’s ovation during the introductions and left to applause with 38 seconds left — just as he had done so many times during four seasons in Phoenix.
He became the first player since Dikembe Mutombo to collect 30 or more rebounds in a game. And he surpassed Olajuwon’s best game (32) to become the third-best single-game rebounder in Rockets’ history.
Barkley set America West Arena records for rebounds in a quarter (11), half (17), and game.
“I wanted 20 rebounds, but they were just bouncing toward me,” Barkley said. “I’ve got 20,000 points. The thing I’m most proud of in my career is my rebounding.”
“He was a man possessed,” Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. “He has been talking about being a rebounder like this since his first day in Houston.”