Charles Barkley, also known as Sir Charles, is an NBA Hall of Famer who played 16 seasons in the NBA from 1984 to 2000. Today, Barkley is known for always speaking his mind on television and is an analyst on TNT’s Inside The NBA.
Barkley was born in Leeds, Alabamaa and attended Auburn until his junior year, when he entered the NBA draft. He was picked fifth overall by the Philadelphia 76ers and stayed in Philadelphia until the 1992-93 season when he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. He was there for four seasons and made the only NBA Finals appearance of his career at the end of his first season there. During his first season with the Suns, he won the MVP Award, but lost in the NBA Finals to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Since Barkley never won a ring, he’s on the list of best NBA players without one.
He spent the last four seasons of his career with the Houston Rockets. Barkley is also a two-time gold medalist as a member of Team USA Basketball at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. Barkley and Maureen Blumhardt married in 1989 and they have a daughter, Christina.
Here’s a look at Barkley’s life and career.
1. Barkley Still Insists He’s not a Role Model, but He Tries to be One
One of the most famous moments of Barkley’s career came off the court. In 1993, he appeared in a Nike ad, bluntly telling viewers that he is not a role model. “Parents should be role models. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids,” he said in the commercial. The ad courted controversy and he still doesn’t think he is a role model.
“I just want to help as many young black kids as I can,” Barkley told ESPN in February 2015.
Eventually in that interview, Barkley admitted that he’s trying to be a role model by promoting the importance of education. Whenever he talks to black kids, he never mentions becoming an athlete.
“White kids grow up thinking they can be doctors, lawyers and engineers,” he told ESPN. “Black kids don’t think that. My goal is to get young black kids, I never talk to them about sports. Never. I say hey, you can be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher, fireman, policeman, things like that. I never talk to them about playing sports. It’s unrealistic.”
2. Barkley Really, Really Doesn’t Like Social Media
Even though some current and retired NBA players have social media profiles, Barkley has made it really, really clear that he doesn’t like Twitter or social media at all. In 2015, he ironically appeared at SXSW to talk about staying relevant in today’s world and proceeded to say that young athletes should stay off Twitter.
“I would say stay away but there is a never a right or wrong answer,” he told Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch. “No matter what you say half the people are going to agree with you and half the people are going to disagree with you. That’s the one thing that sucks about being in the limelight.”
While on ESPN’s Mike & Mike in December 2015, Barkley said social media is “where losers go to feel important and significant.”
3. Barkley’s Net Worth Is Estimated at $40 Million
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Barkley’s estimated net worth is $40 million. He earned $40.3 million in salary in the NBA. His highest-paid season was his last, when he was paid $9 million to play for the Rockets.
Barkley told CNN that families can be the biggest burdens for players once they start earning millions.
“hey’re the worst, your family and friends when it comes to money, because everyone has got their hand out — and you kind of let your guard down with your family and friends,” Barkley told CNN.
Barkley has been charitable with his money. Last year, AL.com reported that he was planning to give $1 million each to Auburn, the Rounded Warrior Project and Moorehouse College.
4. Barkley Considered Running For Alabama Governor
Barkley began thinking about politics as early as 1994, when he was still playing. He said he would run as a Republican in 1998 for Governor of Alabama, but he didn’t retire that year. Then in 2008, Barkley told CNN he would run in 2014.
“The public school system in this country is the worst it has ever been and what that does is that hurts crime, it hurts the judicial system,” he told CNN in 2008. “You know if you don’t give people education and hope, they become criminals. They get involved in drugs. So we have got to fix the public school system.”
Barkley didn’t end up running in 2014 either.
5. Barkley Loves Golf, Even if He Isn’t so Good at It
In retirement, Barkley has spent his free time golfing, but his swing is legendary – legendarily bad that is. However, last year, Awful Announcing noticed that it had changed. At the American Century Championship, he was seen successfully hitting the ball with a one-handed swing.
In another video from the same event, Barkley had a goof, two-handed swing.
Barkley had tried to work with Hank Haney, the golf instructor best known for working with Tiger Woods, in 2008 for a Golf Channel series called The Haney Project: Charles Barkley. “My goal is to go out and have fun because I haven’t been having fun on the golf course in maybe 10 years,” Barkley told the Associated Press before starting on the Haney Project.