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At this point in time, virtually every basketball fan knows about Charles Barkley and his willingness to do things his own way. Whether we’re talking about his playing career — which featured fights, fines, and plenty of bizarre moments — or his time on television, Chuck is always making headlines. One of his stranger stories, however, came in the days leading up to his entrance into the Association.

While most people would gladly accept $75,000 for a single year of playing basketball, Barkley wasn’t pleased with reports that the Philadelphia 76ers could only offer him a one-year contract due to salary cap concerns. So, he embarked on the only logical course of action: eating as much food as possible over the next two days in an attempt to scare the Sixers brass off.

Needless to say, it didn’t work, but Sir Charles managed to give us a story for the ages.

Let’s check it out.

Charles Barkley tried to gain weight so that the Philadelphia 76ers wouldn’t draft him

For most NBA prospects, being drafted into the Association is an unforgettable moment. Charles Barkley, however, isn’t most players.

“Back in my day, we had a hard salary cap, so you could not go over the salary cap like you can today, and the Sixers had the No. 5 pick in the draft,” Barkley told Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch in 2015. “I left college after three years, and in fairness, I was fat in college. I played at 300 pounds. The Sixers called me a month before the draft and said, ‘We want you to get down to 285 pounds and come in before the draft.’ So I get down to 283, and the night before we fly into Philly, my agent said, ‘You do know if the Sixers draft you, they are going to give you $75,000,  right?’  I said, ‘Dude, I didn’t leave college for $75,000. We have a problem.’ He said, ‘You weigh about 283 now. What do you want to do? You beat their weight limit.’ I said, ‘Let’s go out.’”

With that goal in sight, Barkley got to work. In this case, though, work meant picking up a fork and knife, not a basketball.

So we went to Denny’s, and I had like two Grand Slam breakfasts. We went to lunch, and I had like two big barbeque sandwiches. That night we went to a big steakhouse. The next morning I had two more Grand Slam breakfasts, and when we flew to Philly, I weighed 302. I was like, Thank goodness, the Sixers are not going to draft me. 

Charles Barkley

As Dan Devine noted in a 2015 Yahoo story, though, there are some potential inconsistencies when it comes to the “two-day food bender.” Barkley has told this story several times and, on at least one occasion, said that he made a trip to Red Lobster and ate hush puppies instead of the sandwiches; the Graham Bensinger clip at the top of this section references a milkshake at breakfast and Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch. No matter what he actually consumed, though, the end result was the same.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ brass was undeterred and drafted the unhappy forward.

“So when you look at my face when commissioner [David] Stern says, ‘With the fifth pick in the draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Charles Barkley,’ I was like, ‘Oh, sh**,'” Barkley continued. “When people go back and look at me walking, and they see that awful burgundy suit, everybody else is happy, and Charles isn’t happy.”

That unhappiness, however, would only be temporary.

Ultimately, everything worked out for Barkley


Charles Barkley Actually Received More First-Place MVP Votes Than Magic Johnson in 1990 but Didn’t Win the Title

When you consider how his plan failed, it’s understandable that Charles Barkley was a bit unhappy on draft night. Ultimately, though, everything fell into place.

On the financial front, Chuck wasn’t limited to $75,000 for long. As noted by Devine, the forward signed a four-year, $200 million contract later that summer. And, to further assuage any pain, Barkley earned a shade over $40 million during his entire playing career. Even in retirement, his TNT work keeps the cash flowing.

On the court, though, things were a bit more complicated. While Sir Charles’ weight wasn’t a problem at Auburn, the NBA was a different story.

While there are different versions of the tale — Barkley, in his variety of media appearances, can repeat himself with slightly different details — the young forward asked Moses Malone for advice about life in the pros. The veteran told Chuck, in no uncertain words, that he couldn’t play in the NBA at nearly 300 pounds.

Malone didn’t just talk a big game, though. He hit the gym with Barkley and, over time, Sir Charles had shed roughly 45 pounds. With that (relatively) slimmer frame, the forward earned a spot in the 76ers’ starting lineup. From there, the rest is history.

While he never won that elusive NBA championship, Barkley still put together an impressive NBA career. He spent 16 seasons in the pros, averaging 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per outing; those numbers look even better when you consider the forward only stood about 6-foot-6. Chuck also won the 1993 NBA MVP crown and earned two Olympic gold medals.

And to think, it all started with multiple meals at Denny’s and plenty of other food.