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Charles Barkley

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Future Hall of Famer Charles Barkley brought vitality, attitude and a host of skills to professional basketball, maturing into one of the league's most respected, awe-inspiring and recognizable individuals. One of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of All Time, he won the Most Valuable Player Award in 1993 and was a perennial member of the All-Interview Team, but retired in 2000 after 16 seasons without winning an NBA Championship. Upon his retirement, he ranked 13th in the NBA in career scoring with 23,757 points and 15th in rebounding with 12,546 rebounds, finishing with career averages of 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds in 1,073 games. He is one of only four players, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Karl Malone, to post more than 23,000 points, 12,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists in his career. He also was the leading scorer on the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball teams in 1992 at Barcelona and 1996 at Atlanta. At 6-6 and 252 pounds (leaner than in his college days), Barkley had an unusual build for a basketball player-much stockier than most small forwards, yet far shorter than the league's power forwards. He nevertheless could outmaneuver and outsmart bigger players and overpower smaller opponents. He was fluid on the break, a powerful jumper, a deadeye shooter from any angle and one of those rare talents who performed at his best in the clutch. In addition, Barkley managed to be outspoken and outrageous but likable all the same. In his three-year college career at Auburn, Barkley averaged 9.6 rebounds and became known as "the Round Mound of Rebound" for his heft and his hunger for caroms. He was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 1984 but didn't make the U.S. Olympic basketball team that season. He entered the 1984 NBA Draft as a junior and was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers with the fifth overall pick. After averaging 14.0 points and 8.6 rebounds as a rookie, Barkley posted averages of 20 or more points and at least 10 rebounds per game for 11 seasons in a row with Philadelphia and Phoenix before finishing his career with four seasons with the Houston Rockets. His achievements were remarkable. He was an All-NBA First Team selection in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993, an All-NBA Second Team pick in 1986, 1987, 1992, 1994 and 1995 and an All-NBA Third Team choice in 1996. He was selected to 11 All-Star Games, received more All-Star votes than any other player in 1994, and was MVP in the 1991 All-Star classic. In 1986-87 he led the NBA in rebounding (14.6 rpg), and the next year he finished fourth in scoring (28.3 ppg). He topped the NBA in offensive rebounding for three straight years and is among the league's all-time leaders in field goal percentage. He scored 56 points in a single playoff game in 1994, the third-highest total ever. In 1992 he was part of the original U.S. Olympic Dream Team that won a gold medal in Barcelona, and in 1996 he was part of the Dream Team that won a gold medal at Atlanta. Popular with fans and the media, he made the All-Interview team for each of his last 13 seasons in the league. Barkley spent eight seasons in Philadelphia. The 76ers' best showing during his tenure with them was a five-game loss to the Boston Celtics in the 1985 Eastern Conference Finals after the Sixers went 58-24 in the regular season. When the team failed to make the postseason in 1991-92, Barkley was involved in one of the most significant trades in recent memory. Philadelphia traded him to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang. Unhappy in his last years in Philadelphia, Barkley found new life in Phoenix. He had a magical first season with the Suns, winning the NBA MVP Award while leading Phoenix to the league's best record and a berth in the 1993 NBA Finals. The Suns lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in a memorable six-game series. Over the next two seasons Barkley struggled with nagging injuries, and the Suns struggled with him. They reached the conference semifinals in 1994 and 1995 but lost to the Houston Rockets both years. Barkley bounced back with a big season in 1995-96, but the Suns dipped to 41-41. Changes seemed inevitable for a franchise that had come close to the championship but fallen short. On August 19, 1996, Barkley was traded again. This time, the destination was Houston, where he joined stars Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler on a team with title aspirations. For the Suns, the trade meant instant rebuilding, as it brought them promising young players Sam Cassell and Robert Horry and veterans Chucky Brown and Mark Bryant. For Barkley, it was one last chance to achieve the one thing that had escaped him: an NBA championship. It didn't happen, however. In 1996-97 and 1997-98 the Rockets were eliminated in the playoffs by Utah, and in 1998-99, when they were ousted by the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1999-2000, when Barkley missed most of the season because of a torn left quadriceps tendon, Houston failed to make the postseason. Barkley announced his retirement shortly after he was injured in December, but came back to play one final game before the home fans in Houston on April 19.

1999-2000 REGULAR SEASON Named to the 1999-2000 NBA All-Interview First Team Returned to play in his final NBA game on 4/19 Missed more than four months after tearing his left quadriceps tendon away from his kneecap in the first quarter of an 83-73 loss in Philadelphia on 12/8 Posted 25 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists in a 102-99 win over Vancouver on 12/6 Reached the 12,500-rebound plateau with his first rebound against Vancouver on 11/29 Tallied team-highs with 26 points and 15 rebounds in a 119-99 victory over Dallas on 11/23 Totaled 16 points and 16 rebounds in a 128-110 loss to Sacramento on 11/18 Posted 18 points and 24 rebounds in a 96-87 loss to Indiana on 11/15 Scored 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a 103-95 victory in Golden State on 11/13 Totaled 18 points and a game-high 17 rebounds in a 102-97 loss to Orlando on 11/8 Registered 18 points and 13 rebounds in a 95-85 loss to San Antonio on 11/5

1998-1999 REGULAR SEASON Named to the 1998-99 NBA All-Interview First Team Led the Rockets and ranked 2nd in the NBA with 12.3 rpg, and ranked 2nd on the team in scoring (16.1 ppg) and assists (4.6 apg) Scored his 23,335th career point to pass Robert Parish into 13th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list, registering 16 points (7-13 FG), a game-high 14 rebounds and 3 assists, against the Dallas Mavericks on 4/21 Posted game-highs of 23 points (7-12 FG, 7-8 FT) 15 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals against the San Antonio Spurs on 4/18 Totaled 20 points (9-14 FG) and team-highs of 12 rebounds and 9 assists in an 86-76 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on 4/15 Passed Elgin Baylor and Adrian Dantley into 14th place on the NBA's all-time career scoring list, averaging 19.5 ppg, 11.0 rpg and 4.0 apg, in back-to-back wins over the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings on 3/27 and 3/28 Recorded 16 points (6-11 FG), a game-high 14 rebounds and 9 assists in a 113-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors on 3/25 Scored the first 6 points in overtime, registering game-highs of 35 points (13-21 FG) and 18 rebounds, in a 103-93 overtime win over the Phoenix Suns on 3/20 Grabbed his 12,000th career rebound to become only the 2nd player in NBA history (with Wilt Chamberlain) to top 23,000 points, 12,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists, posting 15 points, a game-high 9 rebounds and 7 assists, in a 101-93 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on 3/16 Logged his 23,000th career point and 4,000th assist, totaling 15 points (6-9 FG), a game-high 10 rebounds and 6 assists, in a 100-89 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on 3/13 Notched his 1,600th career steal, recording 15 points (4-6 FG) and team-highs of 10 rebounds and 7 assists, in a 107-92 win over the Vancouver Grizzlies on 3/6 On the injured list from 2/17 to 2/27, missing 8 games, after arthroscopic surgery to repair a tear of the medial meniscus in his left knee Registered 5 consecutive double-doubles to open the season, averaging 19.2 ppg, 17.0 rpg and 4.0 apg, from 2/5 to 2/11

1997-1998 REGULAR SEASON Named to the 1997-98 NBA All-Interview First Team Placed on the injured list on 4/14 due to a strained left groin Recorded 15 points and team-highs with 12 rebounds and 5 steals in a 93-89 victory over the Golden State Warriors on 4/9 Registered team-highs of 23 points and 13 rebounds in a 103-95 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on 3/21 Posted 17 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists in an 89-86 victory over the Sacramento Kings on 3/14 Hit a game-winning jumper with 3.6 seconds remaining, recording a game-high 26 points and 7 rebounds, in a 90-88 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on 2/15 Totaled team-highs with 25 points (8-12 FG) and 15 rebounds in a 110-97 victory over the Vancouver Grizzlies on 2/3 Registered team-highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds and added 4 assists in a 115-109 win over the L.A. Clippers on 1/27 Posted team-highs of 35 points (11-14 FG) and 14 rebounds against the Chicago Bulls on 1/18 Recorded a team-high 29 points (9-16 FG, 11-13 FT), 9 rebounds and 6 assists against the Minnesota Timberwolves on 1/16 Posted 23 points, a game-high 16 rebounds and 6 assists in a 116-98 win over the Sacramento Kings on 12/19 Recorded 22 points, a game-high 21 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists against the Vancouver Grizzlies on 12/14 Totaled team-highs of 19 points, 17 rebounds and 6 assists in a 108-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks on 12/6 Registered 25 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists in a 94-87 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on 12/4 Notched his 20th career triple-double, with 15 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds, in a 112-101 win over the Denver Nuggets on 12/2 Posted a season-high 43 points, 15 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists in a 107-100 win over the Golden State Warriors on 11/29 Grabbed a game-high 22 rebounds and scored 15 points against the L.A. Lakers on 11/14

1996-1997 REGULAR SEASON Barkley played in 53 games, missing 14 because of a laceration and bruise on his left pelvis, 11 because of a sprained right ankle and four due to a trio of suspensions. It was the fewest number of games played (and minutes, 2,009) of his 13-year career, and the Rockets were just 16-13 in games Barkley missed. On a team with two more of the "50 Greatest Players in NBA History," Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, Barkley's scored less but tried to focus on rebounding. He averaged 19.2 ppg, the first time since his rookie year he has been below the 20-point mark, although it was still second only to Olajuwon on the Rockets. But he grabbed 13.5 rpg, which would have ranked second in the league if he had played enough to qualify, and he was battling league leader Dennis Rodman for the top spot for much of the early part of the season. Barkley also averaged 4.7 assists per game to rank second on the Rockets, and 1.30 steals to rank third. In his second game he passed 3,500 career assists and joined Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Elgin Baylor as the only players in NBA history with 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 3,500 assists. Barkley scored 20 points or more 27 times, including a season-high 33 points in a 126-115 double overtime loss to the Lakers on Nov. 12, and grabbed double-figure rebound 40 times, including four games of 20 or more. He hauled down a career-high 33 boards in a 110-95 win at Phoenix on Nov. 2 and came back with 20 rebounds in the next game, a 75-72 win at Utah on Nov. 4. Barkley had 35 double-doubles and one triple-double, posting 27 points, 17 rebounds and a season-high 12 assists in a 120-115 overtime win at Golden State on Nov. 23. Starting all 16 of Houston's playoff games, Barkley averaged 17.9 points and 12.0 rebounds per game, the latter ranking third among all playoff performers.

1995-1996 REGULAR SEASON Barkley ranked eighth in the NBA in scoring at 23.2 ppg, fifth in rebounding at 11.6 rpg and 18th in steals at 1.61 spg, playing and starting in 71 games. He became the 10th player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points and 10,000 rebounds, and finished the season just five assists shy of becoming only the fourth to get 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 3,500 assists (with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor). Barkley shot .500 from the field and a career-high .777 from the free throw line. Besides leading the Suns in scoring, rebounding and steals, he ranked third in assists (3.7 apg), second in field goal percentage and second in blocks (0.79 bpg). Barkley was voted the NBA's Player of the Month for February, when he averaged 24.6 ppg and 12.8 rpg and shot .580 from the field. He led the Suns in scoring 42 times and rebounding 52 times, achieving 42 double-doubles. He scored 30 or more points 11 times, including a season-high 45 points, with 30 in the second half, at Detroit on March 13. He grabbed a season-high 19 rebounds against Golden State on Nov. 12. He posted his 18th career triple-double against Atlanta on Nov. 22, getting 20 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high 11 assists. Barkley was the top vote-getter among Western Conference players for the 1996 All-Star Game in San Antonio, his 10th straight appearance and eighth as a starter. In the Suns' four-game first round playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Barkley led the Suns with 25.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, ranking fourth among all playoff scorers and second among rebounders. He scored 26, 30, 25 and 21 points in the four games.

1994-1995 REGULAR SEASON Barkley showed that he was still one of the NBA's best in 1994-95. After contemplating retirement in the offseason, Barkley stayed with the Phoenix Suns and was as good as ever, particularly in the second half of the campaign. He began the season on the injured list, missed the first 11 games, and struggled a bit after his return, but in the season's second half he averaged 26.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.63 steals. He finished the season ranked seventh in the league in scoring at 23.0 points per game. At midseason Barkley made his ninth consecutive appearance in the NBA All-Star Game after being voted a starter for the seventh straight year. Among his other season highlights, he scored more than 30 points eight times after the All-Star break, including a 45-point outburst against the San Antonio Spurs on April 2. On March 24 he grabbed a career-high 26 rebounds and added 34 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field. He was named NBA Player of the Week on February 21 after averaging 36.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in three games. The Suns won the Pacific Division with a 59-23 record and then demolished the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs. Barkley averaged 33.7 points and 13.7 rebounds in that three-game sweep. In the conference semifinals the Suns jumped to a three-games-to-one lead over the defending NBA-champion Houston Rockets but lost in seven games. It was the second season in a row that the Suns had bowed to the Rockets after going up three games to one. Barkley averaged 22.3 points and 13.3 rebounds in the semifinals series, but a leg injury hampered his performance in Game 7.

1993-1994 REGULAR SEASON With his back aching, Barkley vowed that the 1993-94 season with the Phoenix Suns would be his last. Despite suffering through the worst injury problems of his career, he still managed 21.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game and shot .495 from the floor. He was selected to play in his eighth consecutive NBA All-Star Game (which he opted out of because of a torn quadriceps tendon in his right leg) and was also named to the All-NBA Second Team at season's end. Barkley appeared in only 65 games, the lowest total of his 10-year career. Phoenix compiled a 56-26 record, which undoubtedly would have been better had Barkley been healthy. After having competed for the NBA Championship in 1993, the Suns bowed out of the postseason in the Western Conference Semifinals in 1994, and Barkley remained without a championship ring. In July, perhaps feeling that he still had things to accomplish in his pro career, Barkley announced that he would fight through his chronic back pain and play the 1994-95 season in order to make another go at a title. Despite his ailments, he continued to amaze. In Game 3 of a first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, Barkley hit 23 of 31 field-goal attempts and finished with 56 points, the highest total of the 1994 NBA Playoffs and the third-highest total ever in a playoff game.

1992-1993 REGULAR SEASON A June 17 trade to the Phoenix Suns gave Barkley not only a new lease on life but also a chance at an NBA title. The All-Star forward was dealt to the Suns shortly after the 1991-92 season in exchange for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry, and Andrew Lang. Phoenix could not have been more pleased with the results, as Barkley won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award while leading the Suns to the NBA's best record at 62-20. He became the third player ever to win league MVP honors in the season immediately after being traded. For the year, Barkley averaged 25.6 points and 12.2 rebounds to rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in the NBA. He established new career highs in three-pointers made (67) and attempted (220) and registered a league-high 6 triple-doubles. He tallied 54 double-doubles and led the Suns in scoring 46 times, in rebounding 58 times, and in assists 22 times. His .569 career field-goal percentage at season's end ranked No. 1 among active players. Barkley started the season strong for his new team. He was named the NBA Player of the Month for December as the Suns went 14-0. The leading vote-getter on the West squad in All-Star balloting, Barkley started his fifth straight All-Star Game. In that midseason contest he scored 16 points with 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals in 34 minutes. On January 15 Barkley scored his 15,000th career point in a game against the Miami Heat. He grabbed a season-high 24 rebounds versus the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 27 and made 5 three-pointers against the Sacramento Kings on March 5. He was placed on the injured list on April 12 because of a contusion and strain of his right shoulder and missed five games. Shortly after his return he was ejected from a game against the San Antonio Spurs after drawing two technical fouls. It was the third time during the regular season he had gotten the heave-ho. The nine-year veteran then carried Phoenix all the way to the NBA Finals, the team's first appearance in the Championship Series since 1976 and only the second Finals berth in franchise history. The Chicago Bulls defeated Phoenix in six games, but Barkley was brilliant, averaging 26.6 points and 13.6 rebounds in 42.8 minutes per game in the postseason. He scored 44 points and hauled down 24 rebounds in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Seattle SuperSonics.

1991-1992 REGULAR SEASON Playing his eighth and final season in Philadelphia, Barkley finished his 76ers career ranked fourth in team history in total points (14,184), third in scoring average (23.3 ppg), third in rebounds (7,079), eighth in assists (2,276), and second in field-goal percentage (.576). He led the club in rebounding and field-goal percentage for seven consecutive seasons each and paced Philadelphia in scoring for six straight years. For the 1991-92 season, Barkley ranked eighth in the league in scoring (23.1 ppg), 10th in rebounding (11.1 rpg), and sixth in field-goal percentage (.552). He finished the season with 44 double-doubles, scoring at least 30 points 17 times and 20-plus points 51 times. Barkley grabbed a season-high 22 rebounds in a game against the New Jersey Nets on November 6. He missed six games from November 27 through December 7 because of a bruised left rib cage, but he healed quickly enough to be named as a starting forward for the Eastern Conference All-Star Team for the fourth consecutive year. Barkley scored 12 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, and recorded 4 assists in 35 minutes for the East squad. On February 1 Barkley scored a season-best 38 points against the Boston Celtics. He registered his 14,000th career point and 7,000th career rebound against the Golden State Warriors on March 30. At season's end he was named to the All-NBA Second Team, marking his seventh straight berth on either the first or the second team.

1990-1991 REGULAR SEASON Midway through his seventh NBA season, Barkley garnered Most Valuable Player honors at the 1991 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, as he led the East to a 116-114 win over the West. He scored 17 points and hauled in 22 rebounds, the most rebounds in an All-Star Game since Wilt Chamberlain's 22 in 1967. Barkley was also named to the All-NBA First Team for a fourth straight year. He led his team in scoring 47 times and in rebounding on 44 occasions. He managed 37 double-doubles and scored at least 40 points on five occasions, including a season-high 45 points against the Suns at Phoenix on December 12. Barkley also ranked fourth in the league with 156 slam dunks, 30 more than Michael Jordan. Philadelphia again lost to the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with Barkley contributing 24.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in eight postseason contests.

1989-1990 REGULAR SEASON After six seasons in the NBA, Barkley finally began to receive the individual recognition he deserved. Although he finished second in Most Valuable Player voting behind Magic Johnson, The Sporting News and Basketball Weekly both named Barkley Player of the Year. He played in his fourth NBA All-Star Game, starting for the second time, and was named to the All-NBA First Team for the third straight year. Barkley posted numbers befitting an MVP: 25.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and a .600 field-goal percentage, to rank sixth, third, and second in the league, respectively. Indeed, during the 1989-90 season 51 NBA players did not shoot as well from the free-throw line as Barkley did from the field. In a March 2 game against the Pistons at Detroit, Barkley scored his 10,000th career point. Earlier in the season he had been named NBA Player of the Week after averaging 30.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists over a seven-day stretch. Philadelphia won 53 regular-season games but lost to the Chicago Bulls in a five-game Eastern Conference Semifinal series. Barkley averaged 24.7 points and 15.5 rebounds during the playoffs.

1988-1989 REGULAR SEASON Upon accepting superstar ranking, Barkley also grudgingly acknowledged his singular celebrity status on the team. He was named to the All-NBA First Team for the second consecutive season and made his third straight All-Star Game appearance. Starting at one forward spot for the East squad, Barkley scored 17 points in the midseason classic. During the regular season he averaged 25.8 points and 12.5 rebounds, good for eighth and second in the NBA, respectively. However, no other 76ers player ranked in the league's top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, or blocked shots. Philadelphia was swept in the first round of the playoffs by their division rivals, the New York Knicks. In 1988-89 Barkley led or tied for the team lead in scoring 52 times and in rebounding 54 times. He recorded 60 double-doubles overall. After only five seasons in the league, he ranked eighth on the Sixers' all-time scoring list (8,616 points), seventh in rebounding (4,660), fifth in steals (613), and fifth in blocks (479).

1987-1988 REGULAR SEASON Julius Erving's retirement in May 1987 brought a great deal of sadness to the NBA family. However, it also brought an opportunity for Barkley, who would succeed Erving not only as the Sixers' small forward but also as the team's next superstar. Barkley's fourth year in the league and his first as cocaptain of the Sixers proved to be his most productive to date, as he finished fourth in the NBA in scoring (28.3 ppg), sixth in rebounding (11.9 rpg), and third in field-goal percentage (.587). His season scoring average was the second best in team history. He played in 80 games (missing 2 because of an ankle injury) and logged 3,170 minutes, fourth best in the league and 300 more than his nearest teammate. He appeared in his second consecutive All-Star Game and at season's end was named to the All-NBA First Team for the first time in his career. However, the season was a disaster for the 76ers. Philadelphia missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1974-75 campaign.

1986-1987 REGULAR SEASON With Moses Malone dealt to the Washington Bullets and Julius Erving closing out his legendary career, the 1986-87 version of the Philadelphia 76ers was a study in how a young man can become the team leader. Only 23 years old at the start of the season, Barkley assumed the mantle of responsibility for the franchise and did not disappoint. Although he missed 14 games during the year with spleen and ankle injuries, Barkley earned his first NBA rebounding title with an average of 14.6 boards per game. He was also tops in offensive rebounds (5.7 per game), third in field-goal percentage (.594), and 15th in scoring (23.0 ppg). He missed double figures in scoring only twice during the season. Barkley was selected to play in his first NBA All-Star Game and was named to the All-NBA Second Team for the second straight season. Philadelphia finished in second place in the Atlantic Division, 14 games behind the Boston Celtics. The 76ers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in a five-game first-round playoff series, as Barkley averaged 24.6 points and 12.6 rebounds in the postseason.

1985-1986 REGULAR SEASON Starting his second season with the 76ers, the former first-round draft choice dispelled the notion of a sophomore jinx with another impressive NBA campaign. Despite the presence of Moses Malone, a man who had won six of the previous seven rebounding titles, Barkley finished the season not only as the Sixers' best rebounder, but also as the second-best rebounder in the entire league, averaging 12.8 boards. He also finished as the team's No. 2 scorer with 20.0 points per contest. For his efforts he was voted the NBA Player of the Week three times and was named to the All-NBA Second Team at the end of the season. Barkley logged a number of impressive performances in 1985-86. He posted a season high in scoring with 36 points versus the Washington Bullets on March 24 and had his best rebounding outing with 25 boards against Dallas on March 30. His 20 defensive rebounds against the Mavericks were the league's individual high for the year. Barkley was definitely in charge in the playoffs. He averaged 25.0 points on .578 shooting from the field and 15.8 rebounds in the Sixers' 12 playoff games. However, Philadelphia was eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks, four games to three, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

1984-1985 REGULAR SEASON After dominating the Southeastern Conference during his three years at Auburn University, Charles Barkley set his sights on the NBA. In May he decided to forgo his senior year after compiling an impressive collegiate career in which he averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds and led the SEC in rebounding each season. He set a school record for career blocked shots midway through his sophomore year and also was named SEC Player of the Year in 1984. The Philadelphia 76ers selected Barkley with the fifth overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, two slots after the Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan. Even on a Sixers team that boasted Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Bobby Jones, and Maurice Cheeks in the starting lineup, Barkley was able to carve out a niche of his own during his rookie campaign. He managed 14.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and earned a berth on the NBA All-Rookie Team. He was the team's top rebounder in 20 games. Barkley also was the only Sixers player to appear in all 95 regular and postseason games, a demonstration of durability as he embarked on what would turn out to be a Hall of Fame career. In 1983-84 the 76ers had been eliminated by the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. This year the Sixers cruised through the first two rounds, beating the Washington Bullets in four games and sweeping the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The 76ers' run ended there, however, as the Boston Celtics handled Philadelphia in five games of the conference finals. Barkley averaged 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds during the postseason.

PERSONAL

Charles and his wife Maureen have a daughter, Christiana Has a cameo appearance in the movie "He Got Game" Plays on the Celebrity Golf Association Tour Co-authored his autobiography "Outrageous" with Roy Johnson, Jr., and "Wit and Wisdom of Charles Barkley" with Rick Reilly

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