Charles Barkley is one of the most renowned basketball players in history. The retired NBA athlete turned sports analyst and broadcaster has created a lasting legacy throughout his career.
On Sunday, Barkley sat down with CBS John Wertheim for a “60 Minutes” interview to discuss his childhood and lifestyle, transitioning from playing on the court to analyzing the game and his growth spurt that turned into him a basketball superstar.
Prior to becoming an NBA legend, Barkley faced challenges with his height and weight as a child that could have prevented him from making it in the league, noting that he was always “chubby and big boned.”
The Leeds, Ala., native failed to make his high school’s varsity team as a junior, standing 5-foot-10 and weighing 220 pounds. Between his junior and senior years, he shot up to 6-foot-4 and won the starting position. He was a walking double-double, excelling as a rebounder, averaging 19.1 points and 17.9 rebounds but gaining little notice from college basketball programs. He led his team to the state semifinals, where he scored 26 points and caught the attention of Auburn head coach Sonny Smith, which later led him to join the Auburn Tigers.
Barkley was undersized at the center position, but of course that didn’t stop him from vacuuming in rebounds, which helped earned him the nickname “The Round Mound of Rebound.”
Barkley went on to enter the 1984 NBA Draft as a junior and was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers with the fifth overall pick. Sir Charles joined a veteran-laden team with stars such as Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks — players who took Philadelphia to the 1983 NBA championship. Unfazed, Barkley averaged 14.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and earned a berth on the NBA All-Rookie Team.
Listed at 6-foot-6 but actually closer to 6-foot-4, he played power forward as well as anyone in the history of the NBA, often dominating players half a foot taller. The numbers back him up. Along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, Barkley is one of only six players in NBA history to have compiled at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists.