When you’re regarded as one of the best defenders in history, you’re also known as one of the most irritating ballers to grace the hardcourt. Just ask NBA icon Charles Barkley who had many duels with Dennis Rodman. And being the great player that he was, Barkley had an interesting way to neutralize The Worm.
Puzzled Michael Jordan
Most big men in the 90s knew they would be in for a long night whenever they faced the Chicago Bulls. Rodman was on their grill the entire night. He wouldn't just snag every rebound out there; he’d contain your offensive game, and probably test your temper.
Barkley didn’t want any of it. And so, before Rodman could nag him to death, he delivered the first blow — literally. Barkley’s antics confused his good friend Michael Jordan. But Chuck had to do what he had to do.
“I’d just punch him as hard as I could at the beginning of the game and he would leave you alone. Michael used to ask us, ‘Why do you keep doing that?’ Because he stops irritating you and bugging you once you clock him,” Barkley said.
The best thing about Barkley is that his stories are true and are backed up with video footage. There are several clips online of his altercations with Rodman. The best one was when he gave The Worm a sharp elbow to the kidneys.
The hilarious thing about it is that Barkley did not even attempt to make it as subtle as possible. To add more to the absurdity of it all, Rodman “flopped” though everyone — even the blind — could see what Barkley just did.
Perhaps this is what old heads mean when they say the current era is soft. Subtly dig into your opponent’s ribs with a sharp elbow and be slapped with a five-game suspension. In the 90s, the referees would let you play on after slapping you with a technical. Sometimes they just gave a stern warning.
The game has certainly evolved over the years. And this evolution has been the source of endless debates among fans, former players, and analysts. Some of them are futile, especially arguments with no sound logic. Their main aim is to provoke and irritate, not to encourage productive brain exercise.
Whatever the case may be, it’s best not to pull a Michael Jordan and take such debates personally. Once the smoke has cleared, the ideal thing is to take a moment of silence and appreciate basketball history — its endless twists and turns and the people continuing to move it forward.