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The approval meter always had two ends and no center, just the way Charles
Barkley liked it. You either enjoyed Barkley's rough and tumble basketball style
and his shoot-from-the-hip mouth, or you hated it. The wide-bodied forward left
no room for middle ground. A perennial All-Star, All-NBA and All-Interview
selection during his 16 seasons in the NBA, Barkley made a career of
outmaneuvering and outsmarting bigger players, while also overpowering
smaller opponents. "He's an emotional player, and that emotion is what makes
him great," said Philadelphia 76ers coach, Jimmy Lynam.
After graduating high school, Barkley attended Auburn University. During his
three-year career at Auburn, Charles set school records in field goal percentage
and blocked shots and continues to be ranked among the Tigers' all-time leaders
in rebounding and scoring. He was nicknamed "the Round Mound of Rebound" for his hefty size and for
his powerful rebounding style and was selected as the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in
Forgoing his senior season to become a pro, Barkley was chosen number five by the Philadelphia 76ers in
the first round of the 1984 draft, which also included legendary players Michael Jordan, Akeem Olajuwon
and John Stockton. Barkley played at a more consistent weight as a pro and made an instant impact.
Starting 60 of 82 games, he averaged 14 points and 8.6 rebounds, and made the NBA All-Rookie Team.
The Sixers lost to Boston in the Eastern Conference finals that season, beginning Barkley's most
disappointing legacy: Never winning an NBA championship.
Despite his weight, Charles had a 39-inch vertical leap, terrific quickness and unique physical talent. In
his second season, he averaged 12.8 rebounds - the second-best in the league. His third year with the
Sixers brought a