Sir Charles

The Wit and Wisdom of Charles Barkley


By Charles Barkley

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Outrageous, irreverent quotes from the 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player reveal his far-reaching appraisal of the game, his fellow players, the officials, the writers, and the fans.


He's the 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player

He's a nine-time NBA All Star

He's an Olympic gold medal winner

He's the most popular player in basketball, and he may be the most quotable figure in sports history.



RICK REILLY has twice been honored as the national sports-writer of the year. Currently a senior staff writer for Sports Illustrated, he has also reported for the Los Angeles Times and the Denver Post. Rick is coauthor of the bestselling Boz and collaborated with NBA announcer Marv Albert on I'd Love, to but I Have a Game. He lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and three children.


Editorial Research by Desmond M. Wallace


Copyright © 1994 by Charles Barkley Enterprises, Inc.

All rights reserved.

Warner Books, Inc.

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

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First eBook Edition: September 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-56634-6


There has never been a Quote King quite like Charles Wade Barkley, the Round Mound of Sound. He has retired the trophy, and all further competition has been canceled.

There have been guys who were louder (Brian "The Boz" Bosworth), guys who went for volume ("Neon" Deion Sanders), and guys who never paused to inhale (Reggie), but nobody has ever handed out the good stuff, the honest, fresh, controversial, funny, smart, can-he-say-that? stuff the way Charles Barkley has.

He has not only been an Olympic gold medal winner, an NBA All-Star eight times, an NBA Most Valuable Player, but been voted NBA All-Interview since his rookie year. No wonder. Your average gravy-stained sportswriters would send a limo to get Barkley to the arena. Barkley gives sportswriters more usable stuff in one western road swing than Kareem did in 22years. There are some nights when you are sure Barkley Is going to drain your Bic of ink, talk the pad right out of paper, exhaust the truck's videotape supply, blow the press run and make Sportscenter run late. Set of routine cuts coming up in training camp? "Harold Katz is afraid to have an all-black team, " Barkley says. Boring game in Boston? "As long as [Larry] Bird's around, I'll only be the second-worst defensive player in basketball, " Barkley says. Looking for an off-day story on refs? "Vie don't need refs, but I guess white guys need something to do. All the players are black," says Barkley.

The man makes the job too easy. "I believe in expressing what you feel," Barkley once said. "There are people who hide everything inside—and it's guys like that who kill whole families."

Like his gleaming skull, Barkley hides absolutely nothing. And in hiding nothing, he gets in more trouble than redheaded twins. He is perhaps the first modern athlete who simply refuses to take the abuse. If he is being heckled, he will heckle back. If he is being attacked in print, he attacks back with quotes. If he is being harassed, duck.

His game with reporters is a lot like his game on the court. He causes extreme havoc. He is best in dense, sweaty circles. And he always does the dirty work. Michael Jordan once said that Barkley "never holds his tongue. Sometimes he says the things you want to say, but you don't have the courage to say."

Among (a) quantum physics, (b) the infield fly rule and (c) Charles Barkley, the most misunderstood is Barkley, the man America believes eats live chickens for lunch. In truth, Barkley is 99 percent bark, 1 percent bite. Dave Coskey, the longtime Sixer director of public relations once said, "Most of these guys are jerks who want you to think they're nice guys. But Charles is a genuinely nice guy who wants you to think he's a jerk."

In truth, Barkley is as friendly as a schoolhouse dog and as open to the public as a 7-Eleven. For every night your average NBA superstar is staying in his room, Barkley is out there swan-diving into people. One night at the Phoenix Suns training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona, Barkley was eating at a local dive across from the hotel. As he tried to eat, fans swamped his table for autographs. Barkley would take a bite, sign, take a bite, sign. One drunk man, slurring his words, kept showing up in line over and over again, rubbing Barkley's famous bald head as he signed, blurting, "I can't believe it's him! " The drunk must have gotten five different autographs and rubbed Barkley's head all five times. Barkley never said a word.

At the Barcelona Olympics, most of the rest of the American Dream Team holed up in its $900-a-night, police-barricaded hotel. Barkley, though, was on his nightly meander through the streets and bars and side walk cafes. You'd notice his gleaming head first, then the hundred or so stragglers, gawkers and fans that streamed giddily behind. If the late nights and morning tee times hurt his game, it fooled the world. He was for and away the most outstanding player of the Games.

The world's problem with Barkley comes from, a worldwide shortage of sense of humor. "Anybody that takes Charles too seriously," says Phoenix Suns coach Paul Westphal, "needs to get a little more bran in their diets."

One afternoon, my family and I ran into him in a hotel lobby. It was still six hours to tip-off. My four-year-old girl looked up at him in awe and said, "Are you Charles Barkley?"

"Yes, I am," he said.

"Are you mean?" she asked.

"Not till 7:30," he said.



• To Moses Malone, 38, as he walked into the Sun locker room after a game in March 1993:

"The average age in this room just went up 25 years."

• On Michael Jordan: "The black Jesus."

• On the Boston Celtic aging front line of Larry Bird, Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale:

"I'd rather have older guys who are great players than younger guys who stink."

• On Bill Laimbeer after a scuffle during a game:

"I don't know why he wants to challenge my heavyweight title. He's not even among the top 10 contenders."

• On being fined $22,000 after a fight with Bill Laimbeer, plus $31,700 in suspended salary:

"I don't care if I get fined. I make $3 million. What's a couple thousand dollars?"

• On Larry Bird:

"As long as Bird's around, I'll only be the second-worst defensive player in basketball."

• On the possibility of Bird guarding him one-on-one:


On Sale
Sep 26, 2009
Page Count
144 pages

Charles Barkley

About the Author

Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Charles Barkley has followed up his Hall of Fame basketball career with an Emmy Award-winning television run. A consummate entertainer, Barkley has evolved into a pop culture icon who commands a diverse audience that may not always agree with his opinions, but respects his ability to tell it like it is. Never one to dodge controversy or consequences, Barkley shoots from the hip and speaks from the heart.

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