It’s one of the most legendary stories in NBA draft history. In order to draft him no.5, the Sixers asked Charles Barkley to drop from 300lbs to 285lbs before his workout in Philadelphia. Barkley obliged and was at 283lbs two days before his flight to Philly. But then his agent explained to Charles that the Sixers could only pay him 75k.
‘Dude, I didn’t leave college for $75,000. We have a problem.’ He said, ‘You weigh about 283 now. What do you want to do? You beat their weight limit.’ I said, “Let’s go out.”Charles Barkley, SI.com
In a span of 36 hours, Charles Barkley went from 283lbs to 302lbs. To this day, one of the greatest performances of his career. Convinced the Sixers wouldn’t draft him after breaking the deal, Barkley was surprised when David Stern said, “With the fifth pick in the draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Charles Barkley.” It turned out to be the best thing that could happen to Sir Charles. While he didn’t get the money he hoped for, Barkley got something a lot more valuable – a mentor.
He is the most important person in my basketball career. I went to him and asked why I wasn’t playing, and he said it’s because I’m fat and lazy.Charles Barkley, via Jimmy Kimmel Live
Moses Malone was a no-nonsense guy, but he wasn’t mean. He didn’t just trash Barkley – Malone offered to workout with him every day, and Charles was smart enough to accept. Barkley dropped to 285lbs, and Moses just said, “let’s drop 10 more.” They went 10 by 10 pounds until they found Barkley’s optimal NBA wight – 250 pounds. Seeing the work Moses and Barkley were putting in, the 76ers decided to help in an amusing way.
We’ve had many stories of players letting teams know they don’t want to get drafted by them – Luka to Sacramento, for instance. I often wondered why don’t the teams just call the players’ bluff? The Sixers knew Barkley tried to sabotage his Draft, still selected him, and then had a promo night trolling his weight. Can you imagine that happening in 2021?
Barkley was still disappointed about the $75.000, but he put in the extra work with Moses, got in shape, and the 76ers were winning games. Soon, he fell in love with Philly and had a heck of a run there.