The majority of younger NBA fans never saw Charles Barkley play when he was one of the best and most dominant players back in the day. Standing at around 6'5″ and weighing about 250 pounds, Barkley was incredibly athletic and explosive and moved around the court faster than many guards. He didn't look like a typical basketball player at first glance, but he was incredibly effective and could use his body to create space and soar above everyone in the post. If you haven't already, check out some of his highlight reels online to see what made him at one point the best player in the NBA behind Michael Jordan.
One person who witnessed Barkley's incredible strength and athleticism firsthand was Tim Grover. He worked as a personal trainer for Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade and worked out with Barkley when injuries caught up with him at the end of his career. In his book Relentless, Grover explains how he witnessed Barkley's incredible athleticism while still recovering from a knee injury.
Barkley's foot was in an immobilizer, but that didn't stop him from dunking the ball ten times in a row, which completely shocked Grover, who had never seen something like that before. Grover's advice to Barkley was to wait until he fully recovered because he came off a severe injury, but Barkley instead showed something Grover still remembers to this day. He proceeded to dunk the ball ten times in a row, jumping off his healthy foot, showcasing incredible athleticism.
The great Charles Barkley, probably the most athletically gifted individual I've ever seen, and a cleaner in every way. Charles was working with me after knee surgery, and he was not happy when I said he and his post-surgical torn patella had to stay off the court as long as he was in an immobilizer. He looked at me with that death stare and demanded a ball. Then he stood under the basket and dunked ten times off the healthy foot. Dunked. Ten times. One foot. The boot never touched the ground. With cleaners, there's no off switch. They're always on.
Tim Grover, via Relentless
This type of story proves what type of athlete Barkley really was and that even though he didn't look like the strongest or the most athletic player in the NBA, he definitely belonged on the top of that list. The crazy thing about Barkley is that he was never fully committed to leading a life an athlete of his status should lead. Often, other things came before basketball for him, especially in the latter stages of his career. It was remarkable what he was able to achieve nevertheless and be that dominant for over a decade in an era that is still to this day considered the toughest and most physical.