During his time in the NBA, Charles Barkley was no stranger to fighting. While the forward was a talented player, he also had a bit of a mean streak; at various points, opposing players, fans, and even people on the street felt his wrath. During a 1999 game against the Lakers, however, the Round Mound of Rebound had enough and got into an on-court altercation with Shaquille O’Neal.
After the game, though, the two men quickly buried the hatchet. What motivated that reconciliation? Even NBA stars, it turns out, can’t say no to their mother.
Charles Barkley’s colorful basketball career
In retrospect, it’s impossible to imagine Charles Barkley doing anything other than playing or discussing basketball. At one point, though, he didn’t look like much of a talent.
When he first arrived in high school, Barkley wasn’t exactly a star athlete; he didn’t start on the varsity team until his senior year. Once he got his chance, though, he made the most of the opportunity. After dominating the Alabama state basketball tournament, he earned a scholarship to Auburn.
With the Tigers, Barkley’s star continued to rise. While he didn’t exactly look like an elite athlete, he had more than enough talent to make up for any perceived shortcomings. Sir Charles spent three seasons on campus, averaging 14.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game for his NCAA career and, as a junior, helped Auburn reach the March Madness for the first time in program history.
On the back of that college career, Barkley joined the Philadelphia 76ers as the fifth-overall pick of the 1984 draft. While he was already talented, he took his game to the next level after Moses Malone whipped him into NBA shape. Although he couldn’t win a championship, Sir Charles averaged 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per outing over his 16-year Hall of Fame career.
Chuck was never one to turn down a fight, even against Shaquille O’Neal
For all his talent, Charles Barkley’s career was marred by a few unfortunate incidents. The forward was no stranger to a fight and, in 1999, decided to square off against Shaquille O’Neal.
After the two men came together under the basket, Barkley bounced the basketball off O’Neal’s head. The then-Lakers center didn’t appreciate that, and, after a punch and a tackle, the two stars found themselves wrestling on the floor. Unsurprisingly, they were both ejected from the game.
Today, Barkley and O’Neal work together on TNT; despite their on-air jabs, they get along pretty well. So how did they go from fighting on the court to considering each other friends?
Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal made peace because their moms told them to
Even at the height of their careers, both Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley respected their mothers. That fact helped the two men bury the hatchet after their fight.
“Charles’ mother and my mother have been best friends for 15, 20 years,” Shaq explained on Access Daily in 2019. “I never knew that. So the time that me and Barkley had a fight, when I got to the locker room, my mother was on the phone and Charles’ mother was on the phone.”
“Charles’ mother was like ‘Don’t you hit my boy,” O’Neal continued. “I was like, ‘who is this?’ She was like, It’s Charles’ mom.” Shaq was instructed to go meet Barkley in the hallway to hash out their differences; Sir Charles was told the same thing, and the rest is history.
Eventually, Shaq got a chance to see his mom and Mrs. Barkley together; the scene immediately felt familar.
“I’ve finally seen them two together playing cards,” O’Neal remembered. “And it’s the same relationship that me and Charles have. Arguing, acting crazy, you know, talking smack.”
Shaq went on to say that he doesn’t dislike Charles Barkley and actually loves him like a brother. If not for some motherly intervention, though, Inside the NBA could look a lot different.