What does it take to be a superstar? Charles Barkley says the explanation is simple. You have to be able to make an impact on the game in more than one way. Stars are great at one thing – superstars are great at many. On a night when your shot isn’t falling, or the defense took away drives to the rim – what else can you do?
That’s why the playoffs are where stars and superstars are separated. When there’s time to scout and prepare, you know your no.1 thing will be taken away (or significantly limited.) That’s the time where superstars find a way to still impact the game. For Charles Barkley, he always had rebounding. In his 16 years in the NBA, Sir Charles averaged double digits in rebounds in 15. One of those years, in 86/87, Barkley achieved one of his most favorite stats.
That year, the 6’6″ Barkley averaged 14.6 rebounds per game. He left the 6’8″ Charles Oakley (13.1 RPG), 6’8″ Buck Williams (15.2 RPG), 7’2″ James Donaldson (11.9), and 6’11” Bill Laimbeer (11.6) in the rearview mirror. There are many other stats in Barkley’s career that seem more impressive at first glance, but the reason he’s so proud of this one is that it shows no matter what kind of a game he had, Barkley worked his ass off and helped his team win. His secret?
“I actually have really long arms. But the main thing is just about being physical. I want to hit everything that’s moving. Because as tall as a guy is, if you got your body on him, he can’t jump to exploit his height. Everybody who’s around me, I’m hitting their ass every single time.”Charles Barkley, The Bill Simmons Podcast
The only thing is, players today can’t be as physical under the basket as Barkley could in his days. That makes it more difficult to impact the game consistently – you can always bring effort. Still, effort is often accompanied by physicality, and in today’s NBA, that can often mean early foul trouble and watching the game from the bench.
But Barkley’s main point still remains – the real no.1 guys, title-winning players are the ones that can make an impact in more than one way.