Charles Barkley was one of the greatest NBA players of all time with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets. The big blemish on Barkley’s resume, though, is that he never won an NBA championship. Even today, people often give him a hard time for not having any rings. However, when one NBA legend wondered if they would ever win a title, it seems that Barkley’s situation actually helped them feel better. That NBA legend is former Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki.
Dirk Nowitzki won one championship with the Dallas Mavericks
For almost the entirety of his career, Dirk Nowitzki was one of the best players in the NBA. He was a 14-time All-Star and also won the 2006-07 NBA MVP award. Nowitzki ultimately scored 21.6 points per game or more in every season from 2000-01 through 2011-12. He also scored as many as 26.6 points in 2005-06 and pulled down as many as 9.9 rebounds in 2001-02 and 2002-03.
However, despite playing on some excellent Mavericks teams, Nowitzki went the first 12 seasons of his career without an NBA championship. In 2005-06, the Mavericks reached the NBA Finals and took a 2-0 lead over the Miami Heat. The Heat, though, came back and won in six games. The Mavs then even won 67 games in 2006-07 but shockingly lost in the first round of the playoffs that year.
Finally, in 2010-11, though, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs went 57-25 and ultimately reached the Finals, where they played the superteam Heat with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Despite the Heat having those guys, and despite the fact that Miami took a 2-1 lead, the Mavericks ultimately won the series in six games to help Nowitzki win his only NBA title. He ultimately averaged 26 points per game and 9.7 rebounds in the series, which helped him win the NBA Finals MVP award.
Winning the title that year certainly had to be a relieving feeling for Nowitzki. Before that, though, he had accepted the fact that he was maybe going to become the next Charles Barkley.
Charles Barkley’s failure potentially helped Dirk Nowitzki feel better
Dirk Nowitzki recently spoke to ESPN about Stephen Curry to celebrate Curry breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time Warriors scoring record. This was due to the fact that, like Curry has so far, Nowitzki starred on just one NBA franchise his entire career.
It seems that Nowitzki never really wanted to leave Dallas, either. In fact, he was even prepared to become the next Charles Barkley in terms of championships.
“For me, I was prepared to live with the fact that I wasn’t going to win a title,” Nowitzki said, according to ESPN. “One of my big idols is Charles Barkley. I loved him — that’s why actually in Europe I had No. 14 because he wore No. 14 in the Olympics in Barcelona. And I never have looked at him lesser because he didn’t win a championship. He just happened to run into Michael Jordan all the time.”
Nowitzki makes a great point. Barkley couldn’t help the fact that he played in the same generation as one of the greatest players to ever play. He just happened to play in the wrong era.
That didn’t keep him from becoming an NBA legend, though.
Charles Barkley still had a legendary NBA career with the 76ers, Suns, and Rockets
Despite never winning an NBA championship, Charles Barkley was still one of the greatest NBA players ever.
He ultimately earned 11 All-Star selections and averaged 22.1 points per game for his career to go with 11.7 rebounds. Barkley also had many great seasons, as he even scored as many as 28.3 points per game in 1987-88. However, potentially his best season came in 1992-93 when he won the league MVP award. Barkley averaged 25.6 points and 12.2 rebounds that year. He also had his best chance of winning an NBA title that season.
Charles Barkley led the Suns to a 62-20 record in 1992-93, and they ultimately went to the NBA Finals. The Suns, however, faced Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls and ended up losing in six games.
Barkley’s failure to win a ring, though, didn’t keep him from earning the respect he deserved. The former Auburn star is now a Hall of Famer.
Charles Barkley probably wishes that he would have won an NBA championship. At least his failures can reassure other NBA stars that they can still become legends without the titles.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference