There is no question that Dominique Wilkins and Charles Barkley are two of the best forwards in history. Their athleticism, smarts, strength, and will to dominate were too much for their foes to handle - on offense and defense. As always, there’s always that one player not even the most dominant could stop. For both, it was none other than Kevin McHale.
Too many moves
According to Wilkins, Kevin McHale became so difficult to stop that the league gave him an alias to describe him perfectly. Wilkins added that McHale responded well to contact and to double-teams. In short, he had a counter move to everything the defense threw at him.
“Kevin Mchale. It got to the point when they were calling him ‘A Man With A Thousand Moves.’ You could not guard him one-on-one on the box. He had such great footwork and he did a great job at feeling the contact. And once he felt you, you were done. If the double-team came right away, forget about it,” Wilkins said.
Barkley, for his part, described McHale as one of his most formidable foes. Whereas Wilkins shared details about McHale’s offensive prowess, Barkley claims that the Boston Celtics legend gave him headaches on both ends of the floor.
“My personal nemesis was Kevin McHale. He’s the best player I’ve ever played against. You could not stop him. On the other end, I had to use every ounce of energy I did to score on him,” Barkley said.
McHale was one of the Celtics legends who contributed to the franchise’s success in the 80s. Together with Larry Bird and Robert Parish, the three icons were regarded as the “Big Three.” This dismisses the perception that superteams were only formed in the modern era.
McHale wasn’t just any other player. The man literally won Sixth Man of the Year twice. When he became a starter beginning in the 1985-86 season, dropping 20 points per night was a hobby. At his best, McHale averaged 26.1 points per game on 60.4% shooting from the field.
Wilkins and Barkley were correct in their reading of McHale’s game. In fact, the three-time champion and seven-time All-Star took a lot of pride in his offensive game. So much so that he called his signature post moves the “Torture Chamber.”
Perhaps this is a great reminder to fans, especially the young ones, of one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. It’s been fashionable to insert the likes of Wilkins, Barkley, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, and Karl Malone into the power forward GOAT discussion. We should also chuck in Kevin McHale because he is truly one of the best.